Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

One Example Of Why Treatments Without Evidence Are Dangerous

Homeopathy is just a fancy way of selling placebos.

Pure deception.

Dilution to remove the possibility of any medical benefit.

That just makes it harmless, right?

Wrong.

Magical thinking is not harmless.

Magical thinking kills.

Wishful thinking kills.

It was further contended that the homeopath had assured the deceased that she could cure rectal cancer using homeopathic methods alone and that the deceased would not require surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment.[1]

That fraud homeopath is Francine Scrayen.

Further it was contented that the homeopath had encouraged the deceased not to take appropriate pain relief on the basis that relevant medications would interfere with her monitoring of the disease and the effectiveness of the homeopathic treatment.[1]

As much as I would like to be able to say that real doctors would not do this, I know that there are a lot of doctors who are horrible at pain management.

It was claimed that it was only as a result of a graphic description of the circumstances in which the deceased would die within hours given by the registrar at the hospital which caused the deceased to finally agree to surgery in spite of the advice of the homeopath. Unfortunately the cancer by that time spread to her liver, lungs and bones and treatment from time onwards was effectively palliative.[1]

By delaying the patient from accepting real treatment, Francine Scrayen essentially killed Penelope Dingle. All while billing the patient for medical care.

There were repeated cases of bloody stools from October 2001 right up until the diagnosis of cancer. Had she been seen by some medical professional in that time, she might have been diagnosed at a much earlier stage of her cancer. Homeopathy does not work that way.

Quoted in the inquest from a letter intended to be sent to the homeopath by the patient.

You waited about 12 months, trying to treat, before you suggested I have my internal bleeding diagnosed.

I have since learned that any sort of internal bleeding must be investigated immediately, as it can be a sign that something is seriously wrong. As an alternative health practitioner you should have known this and acted accordingly.[1]

Oops 😳

In other words, it was the contention of the siblings of the deceased that the deceased made a number of unfortunate decisions based on misleading and erroneous information and advice provided to her by a homeopath and those decisions ultimately resulted in her premature death.[1]

Yes, she did make some bad decisions, but the coercion involved was extreme.

Each time Mrs Hearne questioned her sister she was told that Mrs Scrayen claimed that she was at the turning point of her illness and would now be getting better.[1]

Ignore reality.

You really are getting better. Just ignore the obvious signs that you are progressively getting worse.

This is the medical advice of the fraud homeopath Francine Scrayen, according to the inquest, she appears to be a modern Rasputin.

While Mrs Chappell stayed at the home of the deceased and Dr Dingle, every night the deceased was screaming in pain12. [1]

On that occasion she questioned Mrs Scrayen about the deceased’s level of pain and Mrs Scrayen replied to the effect that “…most of Penelope’s pain was in her head and she exaggerated her pain and that she was quite dramatic about it”16. [1]

That cancer pain is just in your head. Stop whining, because the lack of positive thinking is the real problem. The problem is not that homeopathy is a complete fraud.

The problem in this case was that Mrs Scrayen was not a competent health professional.[1]

That is exactly the point. Homeopaths are not competent health professionals. They are placebo pushers.

This homeopath has taken legal action against the author of one blog for reporting on this case.[2] It is all about the reputation, not about the patients. This is why I continually criticize those of us in EMS who pay more attention to appearances, than to our patients.

 

Demanding evidence of benefit is the best way to protect our patients from quackery.

 

The evidence makes it clear that Homeopathy is only a placebo – a fraud.

Footnotes:

[1] Penelope Dingle Inquest
Western Australia
Inquest into the death of Penelope DINGLE
Ref No: 17/10
Perth Coroners Court on 9-24 June 2010
Record of inquest in PDF format

[2] Francine Scrayen sends me a Cease and Desist.
Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 4:47PM
Dan’s Journal of Skepticism
Article

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Comments

  1. Scrayen quite possibly believes what she preaches. Unfortunately she managed to convince Mrs Dingle.

    Shouldn’t ALL proposed “cures” be subjected to placebo-controlled trials the same as new pharmaceuticals are? Let’s face it, I could (in theory) go around selling bottles of brown ale as a cure for anything. Whilst this may make you feel better for a short while, it will not be backed up in the long term.

    • Mark W,

      Scrayen quite possibly believes what she preaches. Unfortunately she managed to convince Mrs Dingle.

      Bernie Madoff may have believed that he was going to make the money back for his investors. He did start out as legitimate, but when his results did not live up to his hype, he switched to scam mode. Bernie Madoff may have cheated a lot of people out of a lot of money, but he did not torture anyone.

      The actions of Francine Scrayen would not be permitted in Guantanamo, if a prisoner developed cancer symptoms. We worry about waterboarding, but compare depriving a cancer patient of pain medicine. What about the Tuskegee experiment where syphilis was allowed to progress without treatment. The differences are that cancer is more aggressive, faster acting, and probably more painful.

      Shouldn’t ALL proposed “cures” be subjected to placebo-controlled trials the same as new pharmaceuticals are? Let’s face it, I could (in theory) go around selling bottles of brown ale as a cure for anything. Whilst this may make you feel better for a short while, it will not be backed up in the long term.

      Brown ale cures a lot of things, especially from Newcastle. 🙂

      Alcoholism probably does not see a very high cure rate with brown ale, but I have not seen any research on this.

      The problem is that alternative medicine is allowed to be sold as long as it does not claim to be a cure. This is the same as psychics advertising that they are just providing entertainment, but not claiming to be able to really predict the future. True believers will blow all of their money on this gabage, just as if they were shooting up heroin, except that alternative medicine is legal.

      I do not know what the laws are in Australia, but I suspect that there are criminal charges that could be brought against Francine Scrayen.

      Which is worse?

      Francine Scrayen is a true believer in homeopathy and willing to talk people into dying in agony to prove to herself that homeopathy works, while blaming the victims for not believing enough.

      or

      Francine Scrayen knows that homeopathy is nonsense, but is willing to talk people into dying in agony to make some money.

      I don’t need to know. Both answers are bad.

      The question is –

      How many Francine Scrayens are there in homeopathy?

      In the inquest, it was pointed out that she has treated cancer with homeopathy once before and that patient also died. What about all of the other patients she prevented from receiving medical care? How many of them have had bed outcomes, because they did not have placebo-responsive illnesses?

      Do we trust the homeopaths to send their patients to real doctors when the patients have real illnesses?

      How would they know the difference between anxiety and illness?

      Wouldn’t the best way be just to have homeopaths do the ethical thing and voluntarily close shop?

      By staying in business, they appear to be demonstrating that they are true believers or truly unethical.

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