Ten Warning Signs: Healthcare Providers Who Could Be Creeps

The articles supportive of non-mainstream treatments found on metabolism.com sometime require comments critical of more traditional practices. This isn’t meant to imply that every alternative form of medical care is worthwhile. Bad medicine is possible with either approach. Whether traditional or alternative, it is important for patients to be aware of healthcare providers who are more likely to harm then help, or those who neither harm nor help but spend a lot of your money. It is also important for providers to know who is doing a lousy job to avoid sending their patients to them. Without this knowledge, it is easy for either provider or patient to be placed in a compromised position by a wayward practitioner.

My little community of Jupiter in South Florida has the dubious distinction of being home to one of the most visible medical scandals in the country. A facility here known as the Rejuvenation Center was recently busted by Federal police along with its founder, for allegations of being one of the largest illegal internet suppliers of steroids and growth hormone. Not long ago a patient from this Center came to my office looking for these hormones after his supplier had been shut down. I guess the word is out that I give “rejuvenation” hormones. If I hadn’t seen an article in the local paper about the alleged criminal activities of the Center I may have assumed the prior hormone treatment was for legitimate reasons.
When choosing a doctor sorting fact from fiction can be a difficult task in our age of misinformation overload. How are patients and providers to protect themselves from being victimized by practitioners who are creeps? Logging on to the website of the Health Department in your State for information is a good first step. These sites may not provide the full story, however. I have put down a few of what I consider warning signs for your review. If you disagree or wish to add your own suggestions feel free. After all, this is a blog.

Warning Signs of Healthcare Providers Who Could be Creeps:

1. Money is the major issue at your visit. They usually want cash
2. An office with a solo provider calling itself a “Center”, “Institute”, “Clinic”
3. No other doctor in the community recognizes the methods being used as legitimate, e.g. chelation therapy.
4. The office or provider is disheveled and the staff chaotic.
5. It is impossible to find out what the providers’ credentials are, or the certifications come from unknown organizations or seem phony.
6. You are pressured to participate in a research project in which you have no interest.
7. You are pressured to get consultations from a single specific provider or tests at a specific facility for vaguely related complaints
8. Treatments or practitioners that are being promoted on infomercials.
9. Practitioners who claim to have unique knowledge or abilities that no one else has.
10. The practice is centered on a new therapy which develops a cult like following. The therapy is generally promoted by a celebrity or book but there is no true medical authority behind it.

Another pitfall for patients is the mistake of going to the “Chief of the Department” for the ultimate word in treatment or diagnosis. Sometimes this is a good idea but many times the “Chief” is not involved in patient care, spending their time traveling, lecturing, raising money or doing research. Before going to the “Chief” try to make sure this person is respected for their clinical skill by other doctors in their community.

Do you have an experience or comment you want to share on the topic of practitioners who could be creeps? Let’s hear from you.

The views expressed here are not meant to provide medical care. Only you and your personal healthcare provider can decide what treatment is right for you.

Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor-in-Chief, metabolism.com

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