Oh man, me and TV preachers, don’t get me started. I’ve enjoyed watching these charlatans since the 1970’s and always marvel at the different ways they entice people to open their wallets. Slap some supposed endorsement from the Almighty on a product and watch it move (if someone needed actual proof of effectiveness to sell something, then the entire quality industry, EMR racket, and all MOC requirements would disappear overnight).
Some enterprising healers have figured this out, and a new Pastoral Medical Association has been formed by “a group of doctors that wanted to see the Almighty’s natural medicine restored to a credible and respected system for the improvement and maintenance of health and for the remediation of routine and chronic illness.” According to the PMA website: “PMA licensed providers come from all fields of health care, counseling and ministry and all have one thing in common. They are spiritually oriented and believe ecclesiastical based health and wellness should be restored, for the good of the people! PMA licensees are about 50% natural health professionals and about 50% conventionally licensed providers from virtually every specialty in medicine, mental health and ministry.” So their licensees are, shall we say, of diverse training backgrounds.
The PMA has an Administrative Division to handle provider licensing, a Member Share Network to get ministerial providers and member families together, and a rather ominous sounding Ecclesiastical Court of Justice (the latter stating that it is not under the jurisdiction of any secular government in deciding member complaints and grievances, as well as legal advocacy). “Patients sign confidentiality agreements, pay out of pocket and are prohibited from suing if they’re unhappy with the care they receive. Any disputes are handled by an ecclesiastical tribunal.”
The “For the Practitioners” page is legalistic, sprinkled with mumbo jumbo inclusions for hypnosis, energy based modalities, touch therapy, and “live blood analysis”, whatever the hell that is, all with enough ambiguity to qualify as a Donald Trump speech. As for the cost to get a PMA license, “The staff time required along with actual cost to complete the practitioner profile varies with each practitioner, therefore so does cost. There is an application fee that varies based on the above, and an annual license fee that varies based on the above as well.” Anyone consorting with self-appointed preachers should know to grab their wallet, as any dues-paying AAFP member could tell you.And
One patient featured in the story went for a “free evaluation” at a PMA clinic (for which there was a $35 fee and x-ray charges) whose chiropractor founder practices “functional medicine” and has been fined by the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners for deceptive advertising. Karl Jawhari, DC also received a cease and desist order for treating conditions beyond his scope of training. But c’mon, if you are “pastoral”, can anything be defined as beyond your scope of training?
Another patient who felt her hypothyroidism inadequately treated went to Jawhari’s clinic. For a $300 initial fee and a $4,500 for a six-month treatment plan, she thinks, “the heavy metal detox, special diet and herbal supplements helped her lose weight and gain energy.”
And I’m sure 1,000 years ago a good bleeding from the local barber rarely did someone some good, no matter how many corpses were piled up in front of his shop. We all know the placebo effect is real, we’ve probably all seen a drug-seeking patient feel better after an IM shot of saline. I am not at all making fun of faith or devout believers, but I am definitely laughing at these snake oil merchants and the gullible so eager to part with their cash. Not that I’m calling for more regulation…
The more I see private citizens abused by the federal government, state medical boards, and the American Board of Family Medicine, the more I laissez-faire I lean. I have no ethical problem with shamans, witch doctors, backwoods midwives, or snake preachers plying whatever cures they like. If a druid priest moves into town and starts running commercials that he can cure migraines with mandrake root and a sharp stone dagger, then I fault the patient who goes to his cave. And if the PMA found some weird legal way around the malpractice lawyers , that’s a nice consolation. When the government promises expanded patient choice even as it creates a primary care shortage, I say let’s make the patient the responsible party.
And I got through this whole column without making a single LELT joke.