New York Is About to Change Its Medical Misconduct Law to Protect Quacks

Slate‘s Brian Palmer writes about a disturbing piece of legislation moving through the New York state legislature:

How can you tell whether a doctor has screwed up? You use other doctors as a measuring stick. That’s why our tort law defines medical malpractice as an act that “deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community.” Now the New York State Legislature wants to substitute its own judgment for that of medical scientists. If it succeeds, rogue doctors will be able to shill their non-evidence-based treatments without worrying about intervention.

In May and June, the two houses of the New York State Legislature unanimously passed a bill prohibiting the state’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct—the agency that disciplines doctors who put their patients in danger—from so much as investigating a claim of medical misconduct that is “based solely on treatment that is not universally accepted by the medical profession.” The bill’s wording is strange—after all, very few practices are “universally accepted” in medicine. And why would the state want to protect practitioners who use unaccepted treatments? Drill down into the text and you’ll see that this is yet another attempt to promote acceptance of chronic Lyme disease.

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