February 1, 2008 at 3:47 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bloggers, Society of Homeopaths, SoH, Woo) (AltMed, Bullying, CAM, Criticism, Defamation, Joseph Chikelue Obi, Legal Threats, Netcetera, Quackometer)
Joseph Chikelue Obi is an interesting character. Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Obi is very fond of using the word “ethical”. I’ve included some snippets from his hearing at the GMC in this blog so you can judge for yourself how ethical Obi’s behaviour was when he was employed by the National Health Service. If you can’t be arsed wading through my post, there is an alternative – simply click this link and you will be taken to the Evening Chronicle’s story “Shamed Doctor Probe”. A widow, desperate to be cured of an undiagnosed illness “paid her life savings into Dr Obi’s account as requested, and although he did visit her house she said he made no diagnosis, arranged no tests and has not been in touch since”. Following the Chronicle’s investigation into Obi, he “made lewd and defamatory references to a Chronicle reporter” on one of his websites. Nice guy.
Prior to setting up the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Joseph Chikelue Obi was employed by the NHS as a doctor. In April 2000 he was employed as a locum by Harrogate Health Care Trust and when a patient was admitted with an acute myocardial infarction, Dr Obi: failed to prescribe analgesia for the patient further to that provided by the Accident & Emergency Department; failed to initiate thrombolysis although this was clinically indicated and after he had attended the patient he wrote inappropriate notes about the duty medical team in his medical record.
Other incidents involving Obi include: refusing to visit a patient; absenting himself from the hospital without leave; giving a patient under psychiatric care the telephone number of a dating agency; describing a colleague as a stupid cow; referring to a hospital phlebotomist as a liar; failing to respond to three requests to attend a patient and write up a prescription. The ‘Determination on Immediate Suspension’ ran as follows:
Given the serious nature of the findings against Dr Obi and the potential risk to patients the Committee have concluded that it is necessary for the protection of members of the public that his registration be suspended with immediate effect. The effect of the foregoing order and the direction for suspension previously announced is that Dr Obi’s registration will be suspended from the date that this letter is deemed to have been served upon him and on that date the Interim Order imposed upon him will be revoked. That concludes this case
The reason I find Obi’s background so interesting is that it doesn’t fit the popular conception that Alt Med practitioners are somehow more ethical or have a better bedside manner than “orthodox” practitioners. Also, it gives an insight into the potential benefits of regulation and the potential dangers of allowing the existence of unregulated practitioners. Doctors can be hauled in front of the GMC and suspended. Who can suspend homeopaths? Crystal healers, chiropractors, those practising chelation or ayurvedic medicine or ear-candling? See Whats The Harm for an idea of what can go wrong when you rely on Alternative Medicine. Who regulates these people? In most cases, the answer seems to be “no-one”. When we do have a professional body regulating therapists, is the body effective? Let’s take the Society of Homeopaths as an example. Here’s the Bad Science blog on the SoH controversy: A Corporate Conspiracy?
More on Obi:
When the Quackometer brought attention to the antics of Professor Dr Obi (as reposted here by PV), the response was a legal letter. This letter prompted several bloggers (5,000 according to Obi) to repost and/or blog about Obi and the Quackometer (my contribution is here and includes links to other blogs on Obi). Joseph and Andrew Obi then featured in a Quackometer post looking at company registration details for RCAM. There are further online news articles on Obi available here and here.