Archive for March 10th, 2010

Dr Michael Dixon is annoyed

March 10, 2010

In which Dr Aust spots that Prince Charles’ favourite GP is in a state of high dudgeon over people being mean about magic medicine. You know – being mean by asking about evidence, and other awkward stuff.

Dr Aust occasionally checks the website of the GPs’ magazine Pulse. This is partly because alerts to it appear on my email and in my Twitter feed.

It is also because the Pulse website has blogs on it; the three I read are by Prof Edzard Ernst, by that excellent blogger (and an on-line acquaintance of mine) the Jobbing Doctor, and by the rather exasperated and often very funny Phil Peverley.

It is a bit of a faff to read the articles at Pulse online because you have to register, but it is free to do so, and once you have, you get an interesting perspective on what is going on in what a lot of doctors I know call “GP-land”.

Including with respect to “complementary”  medicine.

The thing that caught my eye there recently was a distinctly splenetic article (as one splenetic middle-aged gentleman talking about another) written by Prince Charles’ favourite GP, Dr Michael Dixon OBE.

Dr Michael Dixon of the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health

Dr Dixon is the medical director of the Prince of Wales’ Foundation for Integrated Health, probably the most influential lobby group promoting CAM in the UK.

In the article, Dr Dixon is evidently rather annoyed.

You can tell this from the very beginning, where he describes Edzard Ernst as

“A leading member of science’s militant tendency”

Dr Dixon also referes to his opponents – which seems to be anyone who thinks that CAM should live up to the same standards of evidence as the rest of medicine – as

“the new fundamentalists”

In fact, the whole paragraph that contains this phrase is worth quoting.

“The new fundamentalists rarely, if ever, think about the patient. That is not surprising. Most are not doctors. Even Professor Ernst hasn’t faced a real live patient for at least seventeen years. Those were the days when you could still, just, get away with ‘doctor knows best’. Seems he is still living that dream.”

The last bit of this is particularly smile-inducing – at least if you are a conoisseur of irony.

After all, who is it that is demanding the right to use hocus-pocus on the patients, and not explain exactly what is in the remedies?

Is it Professor Ernst?

Or is it Dr Dixon?

As one respondent puts it (read the article and then comments to find out who):

“It is the very essence of old fashioned paternalistic medicine to pretend that it’s a good idea to deceive the patient for the sake of eliciting a placebo reaction.”

While another commenter characterizes Dr Dixon’s extended harrumph (rather accurately in my view) as an “embarrassing diatribe”.

In fact, the main reason for mentioning Dr Dixon’s article is to draw your attention to the excellence of many of the comments that follow it, and which are well worth a read.

The commenters, as the phrase is, “take Dixon’s ass to school“.

Though I suspect his evident blind spots will mean he will not learn very much.

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PS   For anyone interested in what the medical ethicists think of homeopathy, and the ethical issues involved, the answer can be found here.

ADDED: And via Twitter, and courtesy of the splendidly eagle-eyed “Blue Wode”,  here are two other informative articles about Dr Dixon from Majikthyse and The Quackometer.