American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Medical blogger attacks respected cancer doctor

When it comes to explaining medical science and exposing dangerous medical scams and practices, the Science-Based Medicine blog is tops (full disclosure: I was one of the early bloggers at the site and I'm personally a fan). The team of bloggers are well-recognized doctors, researchers and communicators, many from top institutions. Dr. David Gorski, the managing editor, is a highly respected breast cancer surgeon and researcher at Karmanos Cancer Center, a nationally recognized NIH Comprehensive Cancer Center. Steve Novella, the founder of the blog, is a Yale neurologist, well-known for helping educate the public and other doctors about science and medicine.

Naturally, this puts these folks in the crosshairs from time to time. I'm not nearly as prolific as either of them, and I receive a respectable volume of hate mail. I've had critics try to pad online doctor rating sites with negative reviews. But I'm busy, I'm well-respected, and I'm good at what I do. And, importantly, I'm in private practice, which gives me a great deal of freedom to say what I want.

While I've had some pretty unpleasant run-ins with some pretty crazy people, nothing compares to what Dr. David Gorski appears to be going through. One of Gorski's frequent targets of criticism is a guy named Mike Adams who fancies himself some sort of “Health Ranger.” I don't know what that means, exactly, but his website Natural News, which calls itself “the world's top news source on natural health,” is a cesspit of conspiracy theories and very bad health advice. Beyond the fact that it promotes unproven and often dangerous medical practices, Adams's tone is so paranoid and abrasive, he makes Ted Cruz seem like a teddy bear.

I hate the site. I don't know the guy behind the site, but I'm beginning to take on a strong dislike of him as well, not just because he promotes dangerous and frankly idiotic medical ideas, but because he takes on his critics with vicious personal attacks, threatening their livelihoods, their feeling of safety and their careers.

Just this week, Adams published a piece titled, ”Karmanos cancer surgeon Dr. David Gorski linked to “skeptics” kingpin James Randi caught on tape soliciting bl*w job from young man—source.” The really scary thing here is that the headline is the least inflammatory part of the article.

Let's put aside the fact that the headline seems to imply that Gorski was the one doing the soliciting. Further reading shows that he simply knows the man who Adams is accusing of sexual improprieties. That sort of cowardly, defamatory garbage is just the lede. The real attacks come in the body of the blog. Here's the point-by-point breakdown of Adams's lies, dishonest allegations and defamatory (at least in my lay opinion) accusations.

First, there is a non-existent FBI investigation: Dr. David Gorski—already the subject of a Natural News investigation that has submitted numerous allegations to the Federal Bureau of Investigation …

If you read carefully and follow the links, you see that Dr. Gorski is not the subject of any investigation but the 1 in Mike Adams's own head. Adams's writes that he himself has pestered the FBI to look into Dr. Gorski for … “reasons”? Making it seem as if a well-respected surgeon is the subject of a federal investigation is a dangerous road to go down.

Next, is alleged “racketeering”: Dr. David Gorski … is the mentally deranged leader of an online hate group calling themselves “skeptics.” An ongoing Natural News investigation has revealed that Gorski is just one of several co-conspirators who engage in online racketeering, identity deceptions and alleged cyber crimes to commit scientific fraud while destroying their targeted enemies in the holistic health realm.

Much of this is simply deranged opinion, but to state as fact that someone is “mentally deranged” and “leader of an online hate group” is dangerously close to making harmful, knowingly false statements about someone. And to state as fact that someone is engaged in a racketeering scheme seems to go well beyond “opinion.”

Third, is guilt by association: David Gorski's colleague was just convicted of massive medical fraud and sentenced to 45 years in federal prison

This is as far as I can read without actually vomiting. Here in the Detroit area, a cancer doctor named Farid Fata was sentenced to prison for crimes that, for doctors like David Gorski and me, are so horrific as to be nearly indescribable. Dr. Fata told people they had cancer and gave them chemotherapy even when they were perfectly healthy. He did this at great profit. He violated the most important trust, that your doctor is in this for you, the patient, and that he would rather give up his career than harm a single person.

Dr. Fata and Dr. Gorski were “colleagues” in about the same way as me and Josef Mengele: Yeah, we're both doctors, so “colleagues,” I guess, except 1 of us was a pathological torturer and murderer (hint: not me). Dr. Fata was affiliated with an institution which was affiliated with an institution that Dr. Gorski is part of. So, yeah, they were colleagues maybe in some sort of twisted definition. The only conceivable reason to write this is to imply that Dr. Gorski is guilty of the same horrific crimes by association.

Nothing could be further from the truth. David, who I am proud to call a friend and colleague, has spoken out against Fata and other dangerous doctors for years. He has made it a mission to help reveal to the world how quacks do what they do, and how to watch out for them. In addition to fighting cancer in the lab and in the operating room, he fights with the written word against dangerous and deceptive medical practices.

Dr. David Gorski is a quiet medical hero. OK, he's not quiet online, but he's a soft-spoken, gentle, brilliant guy. I can live with the accusations that imply that he is involved in online “racketeering” or is friends with someone who may have asked someone for a BJ (and really, is that all that rare?) but to associate him with a criminal of the worst sort, a doctor who intentionally harms patients for profit, is the worst sort of attack.

I'm a good doctor, but I'm no lawyer. I have no idea whether Mike Adams has crossed the defamation line, and even if he has, whether Dr. Gorski would dignify Adams's idiocy with any sort of legal response. But let's hope that those of us who benefit from Dr. Gorski's work (which is just about everyone who wants to improve the quality of medical care) will not let some nut job tossing around hateful allegations silence people like Dave.

Mike Adams has opinions that are distasteful and dangerous. That is my opinion. He also has every right to state them, as long as he doesn't harm others in a way our legal system recognizes. Dr. Gorski's employers, funding sources and colleagues, if they bother to notice Adams at all, should thank David for being willing to stand on the front line, defending what we all care about most–helping others.

Peter A. Lipson, ACP Member, is a practicing internist and teaching physician in Southeast Michigan. After graduating from Rush Medical College in Chicago, he completed his internal medicine residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. This post first appeared at his blog at Forbes. His blog, which has been around in various forms since 2007, offers "musings on the intersection of science, medicine, and culture." His writing focuses on the difference between science-based medicine and "everything else," but also speaks to the day-to-day practice of medicine, fatherhood, and whatever else migrates from his head to his keyboard.

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Blog log

Members of the American College of Physicians contribute posts from their own sites to ACP Internistand ACP Hospitalist. Contributors include:

Albert Fuchs, MD
Albert Fuchs, MD, FACP, graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, where he also did his internal medicine training. Certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, Dr. Fuchs spent three years as a full-time faculty member at UCLA School of Medicine before opening his private practice in Beverly Hills in 2000.

And Thus, It Begins
Amanda Xi, ACP Medical Student Member, is a first-year medical student at the OUWB School of Medicine, charter class of 2015, in Rochester, Mich., from which she which chronicles her journey through medical training from day 1 of medical school.

Ira S. Nash, MD, FACP, is the senior vice president and executive director of the North Shore-LIJ Medical Group, and a professor of Cardiology and Population Health at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases and was in the private practice of cardiology before joining the full-time faculty of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Zackary Berger
Zackary Berger, MD, ACP Member, is a primary care doctor and general internist in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins. His research interests include doctor-patient communication, bioethics, and systematic reviews.

Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention
Run by three ACP Fellows, this blog ponders vexing issues in infection prevention and control, inside and outside the hospital. Daniel J Diekema, MD, FACP, practices infectious diseases, clinical microbiology, and hospital epidemiology in Iowa City, Iowa, splitting time between seeing patients with infectious diseases, diagnosing infections in the microbiology laboratory, and trying to prevent infections in the hospital. Michael B. Edmond, MD, FACP, is a hospital epidemiologist in Iowa City, IA, with a focus on understanding why infections occur in the hospital and ways to prevent these infections, and sees patients in the inpatient and outpatient settings. Eli N. Perencevich, MD, ACP Member, is an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist in Iowa City, Iowa, who studies methods to halt the spread of resistant bacteria in our hospitals (including novel ways to get everyone to wash their hands).

db's Medical Rants
Robert M. Centor, MD, FACP, contributes short essays contemplating medicine and the health care system.

Suneel Dhand, MD, ACP Member
Suneel Dhand, MD, ACP Member, is a practicing physician in Massachusetts. He has published numerous articles in clinical medicine, covering a wide range of specialty areas including; pulmonology, cardiology, endocrinology, hematology, and infectious disease. He has also authored chapters in the prestigious "5-Minute Clinical Consult" medical textbook. His other clinical interests include quality improvement, hospital safety, hospital utilization, and the use of technology in health care.

Juliet K. Mavromatis, MD, FACP, provides a conversation about health topics for patients and health professionals.

Dr. Mintz' Blog
Matthew Mintz, MD, FACP, has practiced internal medicine for more than a decade and is an Associate Professor of Medicine at an academic medical center on the East Coast. His time is split between teaching medical students and residents, and caring for patients.

Everything Health
Toni Brayer, MD, FACP, blogs about the rapid changes in science, medicine, health and healing in the 21st century.

Vineet Arora, MD, FACP, is Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency and Assistant Dean of Scholarship & Discovery at the Pritzker School of Medicine for the University of Chicago. Her education and research focus is on resident duty hours, patient handoffs, medical professionalism, and quality of hospital care. She is also an academic hospitalist.

Glass Hospital
John H. Schumann, MD, FACP, provides transparency on the workings of medical practice and the complexities of hospital care, illuminates the emotional and cognitive aspects of caregiving and decision-making from the perspective of an active primary care physician, and offers behind-the-scenes portraits of hospital sanctums and the people who inhabit them.

Gut Check
Ryan Madanick, MD, ACP Member, is a gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and the Program Director for the GI & Hepatology Fellowship Program. He specializes in diseases of the esophagus, with a strong interest in the diagnosis and treatment of patients who have difficult-to-manage esophageal problems such as refractory GERD, heartburn, and chest pain.

I'm dok
Mike Aref, MD, PhD, FACP, is an academic hospitalist with an interest in basic and clinical science and education, with interests in noninvasive monitoring and diagnostic testing using novel bedside imaging modalities, diagnostic reasoning, medical informatics, new medical education modalities, pre-code/code management, palliative care, patient-physician communication, quality improvement, and quantitative biomedical imaging.

Informatics Professor
William Hersh, MD, FACP, Professor and Chair, Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology, Oregon Health & Science University, posts his thoughts on various topics related to biomedical and health informatics.

David Katz, MD
David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACP, is an internationally renowned authority on nutrition, weight management, and the prevention of chronic disease, and an internationally recognized leader in integrative medicine and patient-centered care.

Just Oncology
Richard Just, MD, ACP Member, has 36 years in clinical practice of hematology and medical oncology. His blog is a joint publication with Gregg Masters, MPH.

Kevin Pho, MD, ACP Member, offers one of the Web's definitive sites for influential health commentary.

MD Whistleblower
Michael Kirsch, MD, FACP, addresses the joys and challenges of medical practice, including controversies in the doctor-patient relationship, medical ethics and measuring medical quality. When he's not writing, he's performing colonoscopies.

Medical Lessons
Elaine Schattner, MD, FACP, shares her ideas on education, ethics in medicine, health care news and culture. Her views on medicine are informed by her past experiences in caring for patients, as a researcher in cancer immunology, and as a patient who's had breast cancer.

Mired in MedEd
Alexander M. Djuricich, MD, FACP, is the Associate Dean for Continuing Medical Education (CME), and a Program Director in Medicine-Pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, where he blogs about medical education.

More Musings
Rob Lamberts, MD, ACP Member, a med-peds and general practice internist, returns with "volume 2" of his personal musings about medicine, life, armadillos and Sasquatch at More Musings (of a Distractible Kind).

David M. Sack, MD, FACP, practices general gastroenterology at a small community hospital in Connecticut. His blog is a series of musings on medicine, medical care, the health care system and medical ethics, in no particular order.

Reflections of a Grady Doctor
Kimberly Manning, MD, FACP, reflects on the personal side of being a doctor in a community hospital in Atlanta.

The Blog of Paul Sufka
Paul Sufka, MD, ACP Member, is a board certified rheumatologist in St. Paul, Minn. He was a chief resident in internal medicine with the University of Minnesota and then completed his fellowship training in rheumatology in June 2011 at the University of Minnesota Department of Rheumatology. His interests include the use of technology in medicine.

Technology in (Medical) Education
Neil Mehta, MBBS, MS, FACP, is interested in use of technology in education, social media and networking, practice management and evidence-based medicine tools, personal information and knowledge management.

Peter A. Lipson, MD
Peter A. Lipson, MD, ACP Member, is a practicing internist and teaching physician in Southeast Michigan. The blog, which has been around in various forms since 2007, offers musings on the intersection of science, medicine, and culture.

Why is American Health Care So Expensive?
Janice Boughton, MD, FACP, practiced internal medicine for 20 years before adopting a career in hospital and primary care medicine as a locum tenens physician. She lives in Idaho when not traveling.

World's Best Site
Daniel Ginsberg, MD, FACP, is an internal medicine physician who has avidly applied computers to medicine since 1986, when he first wrote medically oriented computer programs. He is in practice in Tacoma, Washington.

Other blogs of note:

American Journal of Medicine
Also known as the Green Journal, the American Journal of Medicine publishes original clinical articles of interest to physicians in internal medicine and its subspecialities, both in academia and community-based practice.

Clinical Correlations
A collaborative medical blog started by Neil Shapiro, MD, ACP Member, associate program director at New York University Medical Center's internal medicine residency program. Faculty, residents and students contribute case studies, mystery quizzes, news, commentary and more.

Interact MD
Michael Benjamin, MD, ACP member, doesn't accept industry money so he can create an independent, clinician-reviewed space on the Internet for physicians to report and comment on the medical news of the day.

PLoS Blog
The Public Library of Science's open access materials include a blog.

White Coat Rants
One of the most popular anonymous blogs written by an emergency room physician.

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