Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Autism, Chelation Therapy, Tort Law

Respectful Insolence has an interesting post about a tort suit being filed by the parents of an autistic child who died after receiving "chelation therapy" for autism.  As I understand it, chelation therapy is aimed at the supposed (and unproved) connection between autism and thimerosol, a preservative used in vaccines until 2002.  Orac has clearly mixed feelings about the wrongful death suit, noting that the child's parents sought out the therapy -- but then again, they were not (so far as we know) qualified to evaluate the (non-)science behind the therapy, while the defendant physician presumably was.

--BC

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/tortsprof/2007/07/autism-chelatio.html

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Comments

This came from Orac's post. I thought he did think the parents were capable of evaluating the treatment.

The reason it bothers me is because the parents share in the responsibility for Tariq's death. They sought out a practitioner to administer chelation therapy to their child. They brought Tariq to the Pittsburgh area from the U.K. to have Dr. Kerry treat their child. But what really causes me a bit of conflict over this development is that Tariq's father, Rufai Nadama is a physician who was working in the British NHS as a specialist registrar in respiratory medicine at the time of his son's death. These were not your run-of-the-mill unsophisticated parents without medical knowledge or training.

As a simple-minded reader it doesn't seem like it should matter that a parent was a medical professional. You go to a Doctor, he's supposed to do his thing as safely as possible, and this guy didn't. Whether the therapy was effective seems like a separate issue from whether he administered it properly.

Posted by: GingerB | Jul 10, 2007 7:26:56 PM

My sense is that the suit addresses both the efficacy of the therapy and whether this guy did it correctly, so I think the parents' knowledge is relevant. But someone who specializes in respiratory medicine may know a lot about some things but be unable to effectively evaluate the information he's being told.

You're right, though, that one parent is a doctor and that is at least interesting.

Posted by: Bill Childs | Jul 11, 2007 5:57:39 AM

I've being researching about Autism and reading your blog, I found your post very helpful :) . I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog!

Posted by: ADHD Therapy | Jan 5, 2010 10:44:02 AM

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