Over the past 2 years, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) have been attempting to update their policy on the use of non-conventional medical therapies. They have landed on a draft policy called Non-allopathic (Non-conventional) Therapies in Medical Practice and there will be many in the skeptical community that will have a problem with the policy.
The Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism (CASS) certainly found many problems, and after our own evaluation of the draft policy and policies in other jurisdiction, we have produced a response to the draft policy that we have submitted to the CPSO today.
Among the many difficulties CASS has with the policy, the most obvious has to do with the title. As Flora at the Winnipeg Skeptics blog detailed well, the term “allopathy” signals a wrong direction being taken by those attempting to maintain a neutral position when describing non-conventional medicine. The term, coined by Samual Hahnemann as a counter for his term homeopathy, means to treat disease with its opposite, in order to cure it. This term misses the mark completely in terms of modern medical diagnosis and the adoption of the term by the CPSO bespeaks an undue influence over the committee by alternative medical promoters.
The other problems CASS has with the draft policy concern the wishy-washy position on evidence that the CPSO seems to have when it comes to non-conventional treatments – after all if they were proved useful, they would now be conventional medicine – and the attempt to muzzle physicians from expressing their personal professional opinion on any non-conventional therapy if it falls into the category of “non-clinical” opinion. This is a very ambiguous term and who really knows what they mean by the term, but you can read the policy and our response to it and decide for yourself.
I would not be writing this if I thought we could do nothing to oppose and change the viewpoint of the CPSO. That is why CASS is calling on members of both the public and the medical field to read the policy and comment on it. There is strong representation in the current comments of supporters of alternative medicine and we do not want all of the feedback to be pro-pseudoscience. Please visit the CPSO policy site above and fill out the comment form available at the bottom of the page. The deadline for this consultation is September 1st 2011, so we must move quickly and let the CPSO know the safety of Ontarians depends upon sound medical opinion based on modern scientific evidence.
Picture via Flckr and Joel Friesen under Creative Commons lic