From yesterday’s Science News Daily:
Economic Woes Lead to Cuts in Alternative Treatments
TUESDAY, Mar. 31 (ScienceNewsDaily) — Struggling with budget cuts at St. Margaret Hospital in Fairfield, Utah, Dr. Frank Jaffrey bears bad news to his patients who have long enjoyed yoga classes and massage at the hospital’s Stress Reduction Center. From now on, Western medicine reigns supreme.
Due to stricter regulations and budget limitations, patients will no longer have access to complementary and alternative medicine through the hospital, according to Jaffrey. Alternative therapies that will no longer be available through St. Margaret include chiropractic, massage, vaginal birth, yoga and acupuncture.
A recent government survey found that 38 percent of adults and 12 percent of children rely on some type of complementary or alternative medicine or therapy. Supplements, deep breathing exercises, meditation, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage, yoga are the most popular for both sexes, while 68.2 percent of childbearing women in 2007 had vaginal birth performed on them in spite of scientific evidence that vaginal birth is only marginally more effective at removing babies from mothers than cesarean section.
During difficult economic times, fulfilling the desires of the consumer must bow to the basics, which usually means strict adherence to the provision of evidence-based medicine, according to Dr. Dana Humphrey of Steele Memorial Hospital in Halton, Montana. Vaginal birth will be the first alternative therapy cut at Steele Memorial due to lack of evidence.
“The problem we have with vaginal birth, particularly so-called “natural” or unmedicated birth,” said Humphrey, “is that it has no solid foundation of scientific research.”
“We have no way of monitoring how vaginal birth actually begins outside the hospital and therefore must conclude in the absence of randomized controlled trials that spontaneous vaginal birth and unassisted childbirth are glorified urban myths.”
Humphrey says that she and her obstetrics colleagues began interviewing patients who arrived at the hospital in labor or transferred from a home birth after the 2005 arrest of three Orange County, California women at customs for smuggling nearly 5,000 dollars worth of synthetic oxytocin into the United States. Medical authorities speculated that these women were home birth midwives and the drug was being used to induce labor in patients so that midwives and their clients could perpetuate the illusion that out-of-hospital birth begins spontaneously.
The women, who argued that the drugs were planted in the trunk, were found innocent on all counts of drug trafficking.
“The arrest of several members of the Southern California Pitocin cartel a few years ago made us realize that, in the absence of empirical evidence, we must assume that human labor only begins with medication,” stated Humphrey.
Pregnant women and postpartum females are “highly emotional” and cannot serve as reliable interviewees for the purpose of scientific data collection, says Humphrey, which is why she only interviews the woman’s partner or accompanying adult companion regarding her pregnancy, labor and mental condition.
“We cannot trust parturient women to accurately answer questions about how, when and where their labor started,” claims Humphrey’s colleague, Dr. Jack Franz. “Women are not the best judges of their bodily functions, as their emotionality clouds their minds and diverts their awareness from their own bodies.”
“My patients like to know that they can trust me to have control over their body and its functions,” says Franz, “and though we can no longer perform a vaginal birth or a VBAC on them because these procedures are considered pseudoscientific and dangerous, I know they will appreciate how efficient the hospital will become without them.”
While some doctors remain open to alternative therapies, others are criminally skeptical.
Dr. Jon Marquez, who is serving two years at Deerfield State Penitentiary, granted the Affiliated Press an exclusive interview last month about his now infamous infant kidnapping. He reported the following to AP:
I was on a walk in my neighborhood and I heard the distinctive first cry of a newborn. I broke down the door to find a woman in an inflatable pool in her living room holding a newborn baby. I knew I had to act fast, so I cut the cord with a pocketknife so the baby could breathe, then cut off his foreskin before he could get an infection. Then, I performed an manual removal of the woman’s placenta. I knew I had to get the baby to the hospital for a cesarean so he could enter the world safely, so I decided that I had to sacrifice the mother, who would soon be dead from a postpartum hemorrhage without prophylactic Pitocin anyway. Later I found out that she lived— probably because she is part of that underground Pitocin ring. If she buys drugs, she probably also has gonorrhea, which means that by taking him to the closest hospital for antibiotics, I saved that baby from blindness. I know I did the right thing and I have been unfairly imprisoned for my skepticism, life-saving emergency skills and unusually well-educated brain.
The family received an undisclosed settlement from the Marquez family in exchange for dropping several charges against the obstetrician.
[Edit 8/30/2009: It’s an April Fool’s article. I didn’t mean for people to feel “Punk’d!” Sorry. -Jill]