The Cleveland Clinic is widely regarded as one of the best hospitals in the world, but like many hospitals these days it is more than happy to push fraudulent “medicine” for fun and profit on its more ignorant and credulous patients. It has started a Center for Integrative Medicine that pushes all sorts of quackery like reiki, which it defines as:
a form of hands-on, natural healing that uses universal life force energy . . . [a] vital life force energy that flows through all living things. This gentle energy is limitless in abundance and is believed to be a spiritual form of energy. The Reiki practitioner is the conduit between you and the source of the universal life force energy. . . You may experience the energy as sensations such as heat, tingling, or pulsing where the practitioner places her hands on your body, or you may feel these sensations move through your body to other locations. This is the energy flowing into you.
What you should be feeling at this point is not “energy flowing into you” but your lunch flowing out of you. I have no idea how any hospital, especially a world class one like the Cleveland Clinic, can use a phrase like “universal life force energy” without feeling so much shame that they want to throw themselves off a bridge. And the collection of empty catchphrases goes on, as they describe how reiki will “dissolve energy blockages” and “detoxify the body” and “increase the vibrational frequency of the client.” There’s enough bullshit there to fertilize the Gobi desert.
Jann Bellamy at Science Based Medicine asks an interesting question:
Could a medical facility’s selling reiki to the public give rise to an individual or class action lawsuit for fraud? If so, then hospitals and other health care facilities are needlessly subjecting themselves to liability, something they generally go to great strides to avoid.
Homeopathy could serve as a cautionary tale for the hospital industry. Numerous class actions based on fraud, as well as consumer protection laws, have been filed against homeopathic remedy manufacturers in the last several years. (Class actions can aggregate many small claims of financial loss for plaintiffs unlikely to bring individual suits.) To my knowledge, all of these have settled, costing the companies millions of dollars. One manufacturer has decided to opt out of the American and Canadian markets because of liability concerns. Homeopathic products are still very much on the shelves but, then again, homeopathic remedy companies seem fairly shameless. I would think that medical facilities, which trade on their reputations for excellence in patient care, have a lot more to fear from a suit for fraudulent misrepresentation.
I think that’s entirely possible. But where is the federal government in this? Or the medical licensing associations? How does a hospital maintain its legal ability to practice medicine while providing “treatements” that are transparently fraudulent?