Defending Integrative Medicine in the United States
How many more doctors and alternative practitioners will be dragged before state medical boards and disciplined before we take action and work together to end this persecution of integrative medicine and natural practitioners forever?
Every year a new study comes out documenting the increasing numbers of people availing themselves of alternative medicine. Still the medical boards insist that alternative therapies are dangerous to the public and outside the accepted “standard of care”. It is time to turn the tide and ensure the freedom of access to innovative therapies!
Historical Background: Of course, the story of suppression of natural medical alternatives started a long time ago. But there have been some victories. In 1987, the chiropractic profession filed an antitrust suit, Wilk et al v. the AMA, and won a key federal court decision against the American Medical Association (AMA). As a result of this suit, chiropractic has become the most accepted of all the alternative therapies available. Since then the AMA been wary of putting its foot back into the waters of attacking alternative therapies as quackery. Interestingly however, several organizations came on the scene shortly after the 1987 decision, including the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) which is a private corporation that acts as a clearinghouse for the theory and practice of states investigating licensed medical doctors. With the encouragement of the FSMB and other quack-buster organizations, the prosecution of holistic doctors and practitioners and alternative therapies has continued.
Dr. Sica’s Story: This particular story is about how one doctor, Robban A. Sica, MD, went on the offensive to try and establish a national precedent to protect practitioners whose only “crime” is using an innovative therapy to help patients get well. In 2002, investigators for the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DOPH) started an investigation of Dr. Sica’s use of chelation when they noticed on a website that she was offering that alternative treatment. They filed a statement of charges against Dr. Sica in the fall of 2003, alleging that she “violated the applicable standard of care” because she allegedly treated coronary artery disease with EDTA Chelation therapy. Without either regulating, codifying or publishing any guidelines for the undisclosed “standard of care”, the Connecticut State health officials sought to restrict or revoke Dr. Sica’s license, on the basis of one “expert” witness certified in occupational medicine, who claim that Dr. Sica failed to meet the standard of care as defined by …him.
Connecticut’s History of Oppression of Integrative Therapies: This is not the first time that Connecticut DOPH has investigated doctors and dentists who practice innovative treatments and tried to revoke their licenses. Many remember the case of Dr. Mark Breiner, the dentist who was charged with removing mercury amalgam fillings from patients’ mouths, even though mercury is well known to be a toxic substance. Chelating physicians have fallen prey to DOPH over the past 20 years, most recently Tadeus Skowron, MD of Bridgeport, CT. Initially, the DOPH had successfully forced Dr. Skowron to sign a consent order agreeing to probation and review of his charts. The doctor assigned by the DOPH to conduct the chart review then accused him of negligence and failure to treat cancer appropriately (Dr. Skowron was using alternative methods). The doctor’s defense attorney even presented a clinical professor of medicine from Yale who testified that Dr. Skowron’s treatment was thorough and that his charts were impeccable. The Board of Medical Examiners revoked Dr. Skowron’s license, on May 18, 2004, giving him only five days warning. They found the expert from Yale “not credible”. After attempting to fight to regain his license for a couple more years, Dr. Skowron sadly gave up and moved his family back to his native country of Poland. Unfortunately, there are many other doctors and non-licensed natural practitioners who are casualties of this war, including several physicians forced to stop using chelation therapy and a growing number of physicians being persecuted for treating chronic Lyme disease [Look for future AAHF article on this issue.]. Even nutritionists and homeopaths have been told by the CT DOPH to “cease and desist”. For more information on what is happening in Connecticut, please visit our state chapter Connecticut Health Freedom Coalition website.
Dr. Sica Fights Back: In response to these trumped up charges, Dr. Sica’s attorney, Jacques Simon, formulated and brought a federal lawsuit against the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the medical board in 2004. This suit was unprecedented in its very approach; Dr. Sica sued that charges were filed against her for misconduct without first giving “fair warning” of what action one might take that would be misconduct, in other words, on the basis of a due process violations. While there are many examples of the Connecticut health department observing Connecticut statutes and promulgating standard-of-care regulations, after public notice and comment, on medical and dental practice as well as issuing advisories, where treatments and methods have been clearly defined, the DOPH has never written any regulations or advisory on EDTA chelation, or for that matter, on any topic relating to the chelation of heavy metals. In short, in Connecticut, there is no written, codified or otherwise regulated standard of care regarding this therapy. Her lawsuit contended that, in Dr. Sica’s case, the department attempted an end run around the state laws which govern administrative agencies, by accepting one expert’s view of “standard of care” for enforcement.
The Sica suit challenged whether the Connecticut medical board acted outside its jurisdiction and scope of power. In Connecticut, in order for the board to have the jurisdiction to request patient charts or to otherwise investigate a physician, the law requires a specific complaint or a blatant act that violates a particular statute or regulation. In Dr. Sica’s case, there was no such complaint or act. DOPH had not gone through the process to adopt into lawful standard-of-care regulation for heavy metal toxicity or EDTA. Yet they charged Dr. Sica with violating this non-existent regulation and an “applicable standard of care” from the mind of one man. Which begs the question, can you make up a law after you’ve charged someone with violating it? How can you be in violation of a law or of a “standard of care” that does not exist? The legal principle of nulla peona sine lege clear states there can be no penalty without a pre-existing law. You can’t just make up a law after the fact, after you’ve charged someone with violating that law!
The Lawsuit in Summary: The lawsuit was set upon three basic principles:
- There is no law prohibiting the care that Dr. Sica was charged with giving. Nothing in Connecticut state or in Federal law has made treating coronary artery disease or heavy metals with EDTA chelation illegal.
- Had DOPH wanted to lawfully regulate a standard of care, through administrative procedure notifying all residents of the proposed standard and providing a public comment period, they could have.
- The law cited to give them jurisdiction in this case has to do with the “incompetent, illegal or negligent” practice of medicine, yet nowhere are the vague terms, “incompetent” and “negligent,” defined, and remember, chelation is not otherwise illegal as the off-label use of an approved medication by a physician was upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Therefore, they must either disprove this modality, or make a regulation against it, before they can commit a charge against it.
Why Federal Court? Traditionally, state appeals courts have declined to second-guess findings of guilt made by state boards of professional peers, leaving an accused practitioner with no state remedy for abuse by the health officials. In most states, failure to comply with a demand made by a medical board can be the basis for charges all by itself. The assumption of correctness benefits the board at every juncture from investigation to appeal, but what if the board is simply wrong?
Due process – the art of fairness: Dr. Robban Sica’s suit filed in federal court against the Connecticut Department of Public Health and officials including the commissioner, the presiding board members, the DOPH expert and attorneys, charged them with numerous failures of due process and for violating Dr. Sica’s constitutional rights,. The suit sought a preliminary and a permanent injunction against the state officials prohibiting them from going forward with the prosecution of the charges and with the administrative hearing. In addition, an emergency motion was made to stop the administrative hearings regarding her license. Unfortunately, despite an Order from the federal judge allowing the emergency injunction to be heard and allowing Dr. Sica’s attorney to conduct unprecedented “limited discovery” of the state including depositions of state officials (almost un-heard-of), this injunction was not successful. But it was a major step forward as frequently federal judges refrain from taking on state issues such as this.
This was the very first time that we know of, that a doctor has gone directly to Federal Court before submitting to a medical board administrative hearing, what pundits call a kangaroo court. Connecticut is part of the Second Federal Circuit which has a different set of standards, federal standards. In 2003 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed very similar state medical board due-process questions and decided in the favor of the New York physician. See DiBlasio v. Novell. The difference is that De Blasio was appealing a summary suspension, his NY license was already taken due to an alleged “imminent threat to the public.” What made DiBlasio relevant to Sica’s case is the finding by the second circuit court that, viewed from the federal standard, the relationship between the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) prosecutors and the judges from the Board of Professional Medical Conduct (BPMC), both being under the aegis same health department was way too cozy and potentially unfair.
An Unprecedented Positive Outcome: As a result of the lawsuit and successful negotiations by Dr. Sica’s attorneys, Jacques Simon and Al Augustine, a reasonable settlement was arrived at in which Dr. Sica agreed to provide informed consent containing the health officials concerns to all patients who wish to undergo chelation therapy but, thankfully, Dr. Sica’s license and right to practice remains intact as well as patients’ rights to choose chelation therapy.
10 thoughts on “Dr. Sica’s Story”
Alternative medicine saved my life and that of two other family members
after years of bouncing around the allopathic system. I applaud your
efforts. Beth Dabit
What kind of a “scientific” field do we have, when use of EFFECTIVE therapies are frowned upon? particularly those that have no side effects as many natural therapies don’t? We must remind ourselves the need to seek to balance the power we have given the constructs/structures WE have CREATED to live by or the authorities we have APPROVED and/or ALLOWED to create FOR us? It is the basis of our U. S. Constitution. Let me, as the proprietor of my body, be the one to choose how I may discern or intuit what form my healing may take. It is my birthright to use Earth’s provisions for my survival – I don’t have to be forced to listen to ANYONE.
I don’t see anyone knocking on my door to ask me if I want a genetically altered food to be placed into my mouth, yet the faceless, nameless “authorities” force me to fill my cupboards with them by not telling me which products are… yet I don’t hear that their licenses or jobs are being taken away – and we are talking about foods which are going to feed MY bodily cells – vibrate INTO MY cells – and keep them ALIVE as we know food DOES and death by hunger is irrefutable proof of that. So what will these genes be doing to my cells? THAT may be more of a worthwhile pursuit than bothering people and prosecuting practitioners for therapies that are WORKING for them!
Look up Mongellons.
WHAT kind of world has this become???!!!
Power to you Dr. Sica!!…. if the millions of doctors would just stop cowarding behind pharmaceuticals and the AMA (which is a man-made structure – capable of being FALLIBLE) and LISTEN to their patients who are already telling them how other therapies are helping them, and provide this immense data to medicine.. we WOULD have a better Health Care System!!
The simple truth we must face is the FDA is working to indirectly kill us. Hard to believe? Not when you examine the facts over the last 50 or so years. Second fact the FDA is more politically powerful than congress. Third fact the FDA works for the eugenic Rockefeller clan.
EVERYTHING going on makes sense once you accept these three facts.
Well Said Maryann! We must diligently commit ourselves to making our voices HEARD, and not allow the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies to restrict our freedom to chose the way we care for our bodies!
The new Health Care bill that passed in Congress encourages preventive care, and says that Integrative or Complementary Physicians can have their bills paid by insurance companies, so they have now become legal. If Complementary Physicians are now legal isn’t Dr. Sica also legal?
I am not a lawyer.
Kudos to Dr.Sica’s determination and courage to stand up for her patients birthright to choose
whatever treatment is available on our planet that produces healthy results as opposed to lethal
side effects from FDA approved (for genocide purpose) drugs…we patients have to make that
decision because our doctors are just providing us a service and we are the ones who must decide between conventional or alternative…period
Disgusted patient in
Frank I agree, there are decisions only we can make. The problem I see is that most doctors instill fear in their
patients, when they many times know, that there are many available options that could heal them without traditional medicine.. take arthritis for example… I for one can tell you that in countless of occasions I saw the healing effects of acupuncture, which after much fight became legal in the US. My husband’s teacher, and a strong group in San Francisco, where we lived, were responsible for fighting for this to become legal. We should unite and use all our resources available to make other choices that we currently either practise on ourselves or know about, help others in their quest towards attainable health. There is so much to do, but never give up, we must continue to do what we know is right & honest. We cannot compromise or we will loose whatever is left in us to have the longing for those who many times are dying without hope or suffering just because others determine they , as though they are God, will decide what is medicine and what is not.
In 1946 the FDA banned the “Gerson Therapy” from being used to treat & CURE CANCER after Dr Max Gerson presented 50 proven cases to the U.S. Congress. The Pepper-Dealy anti-cancer bill which resulted from that hearing has now disappeared from the Congressional records. This says that Big Pharma & the FDA truly do have more power than any other group. Dr Gerson’s daughter, Charlotte Gerson, at age 87 today is the picture of good health, no eyeglasses, clear skin, no osteoporosis or other ailments. She still travels the lecture circuit educating people about her father’s work. She has written books and is in a film entitled “The Gerson Miracle” which can be found on DVD. To research go to: the “Gerson Institute”.com. Her favorite saying is “The pharmaceuticals couldn’t make any money on a bag of carrots”. The Gerson Therapy is a nutritional treatment along with detoxing the liver with coffee enemas. She lives in So. Calif and visits the Gerson Clinic in Tijuana Mexico regularly. One of these visits is in the film. Dr Gerson was Albert Schweitzer’s family physician.
I am aware that this has been happening for a long time. I lived in Moraga Ca. where I met several doctors & alternative therapies that were being applied at the Gerson Institute. I met a few individuals whom we referred to the Clinic. My husband studied under one of Dr Carey Reims students in a alternative therapy that addresses most of the same systems that Dr Gerson utilizes, in addition to working with several calciums & supplements.
It is an alternative method that allows the body given the correct elements to recover & regenerate. Of course, no one dares make this public, because you would be sent to jail. Even our mentor who is a doctor, does not practise, only teaches, because it would be considered illegal…. we follow the method and it works, but you cannot help others unless you are willing to be sent to jail for it… we are becoming a Nation under seige. Our Constitution was written to give us freedom, not slavery, and the most interesting thing about all this is that it is all about profit, not help, the Pharmas are foreign entities, yet they rule our health & well being we are subjected to them by lawmakers willing to be bought by them. If you want a change go to Gooh.com & vote Ron Paul
This recalls a film I saw recently on Dr. Borsynski in Texas. It is a must see film on the veiled tactics of the FDA in bed with big pharma. It boils down to corporate tyranny, and we as citizens under the constitution have a responsibility to stand up against it. Check out “Cancer is Serious Business” on youtube.