A canna’ change the laws of physics

Scotty, The Naked Time, stardate 1704.3, Episode 7

Would You Really Trust This Man With Your Wellbeing?

Posted by apgaylard on February 21, 2008

Given the recent, temporary, closure of Andy Lewis’ excellent quackometer blog by the supine ISP netcetera I just thought that I would offer some observations.

It is astounding how easy it has been for the self-aggrandising quack ‘Professor’ Joseph Chikelue Obi to close down a reasonable critic.  He has not had to substantiate his allegation of defamation or employ a solicitor: a letter from a cut-price ‘legal advisor’ has been enough.  If only it was as easy to get child porn off the internet.

I guess you can’t blame a quack for trying; the craven attitude of netcetera is the real problem here.  I only hope that the opprobrium justifiably heaped on this ISP will tarnish their brand enough to encourage others to show some backbone in the face of vague threats of frivolous litigation.

This sort of bullying doesn’t sit well with the touchy-feely image the ‘altie’ community like to project.  It’s more like the behaviour they attribute to the establishment bogey-man.  Neither is Obi the only ‘altie’ bully as the execrable Society of Homeopaths has so ably demonstrated.

So, given that Obi is now a self-proclaimed spokesman for the “Alternative Health fraternity”, what sort of doctor was he?  A good way of assessing this is to read the record of the GMC fitness to practise hearing at which he was suspended.  It’s available online.

Here are some of the charges against Obi that the GMC hearing considered to be proven, which caught my attention.  Just think: would you really like to be treated by health ‘practitioner’ who could behave in this way?  Would you trust the wellbeing of your nearest and dearest to a man with this track record?

[Note: all bold text summarises charges considered proven by the GMC hearing.  References to the specific parts of the document are provided in parenthesis]

In April 2000 he failed to prescribe additional analgesia to a patient with an acute myocardial infarction, initiate thrombolysis or seek necessary advice from senior colleagues. [1c i-iv]

This is the sort of experience that drives the disappointed and unwary into the clutches of the CAM movement.  I find it ironic that a man responsible for behaving this way is now offering alternative therapies and claiming to speak for that movement.

In October 2000 a man brought his wife to the Accident and Emergency Department of the hospital that Obi was working in, for treatment of an acute episode of a long term psychiatric disorder.  He told the woman’s husband that “We can’t admit her for talking” and “If you can’t stand it move out“. [2b i-iii]

CAM practitioners pride themselves on extensive and sympathetic consultations.  Adopting this attitude towards someone with a psychiatric disorder hardly seems to be a good foundation for a new career in alternative ‘medicine’.

Just five days later, on 25 October 2000, Obi was asked to assess a patient who was considered to be at risk of self-harm.  After attending the patient he wrote inappropriate notes about the duty medical team in his medical record. [2c i & iv]

A poor attitude to conventional medicine and its practitioners is not uncommon among the ‘altie’ community.  However they do show remarkable tolerance to each other: uncritically accepting claims for therapies whose ‘theory’ often directly contradicts that of their own favoured intervention.  This incident calls into question whether Obi can sustain this type of collegiate spirit.

On 29th October 2000 he responded to switchboard staff in an unhelpful and offensive manner on the telephone and at the switchboard. [2d ii]

Not working well with others would seem to be an impediment to someone with the ambition to run an institution with upwards of one million members.

In September 2000 have gave a patient under psychiatric care the telephone number of a dating agency. [2j]

An unconventional therapy to say the least.  Perhaps Obi was destined for a career in (the) alternative (to) medicine all along.

In 2001 he described a colleague as a stupid cow and referred to a hospital phlebotomist as a liar. [3b ii & 3d]

Obi did not attend the hearing; neither was he represented.  He was duly found guilty of serious professional misconduct and suspended for 12 months.  That was in 2003; I can find no evidence to suggest that he has regained his registration since.

Given the lack of contrition that Obi has shown, I don’t think that I would relish the thought of myself or my loved ones receiving his ministrations.

(The Register is carrying an excellent article on this subject.  A host of bloggers have also offered their comments.)

4 Responses to “Would You Really Trust This Man With Your Wellbeing?”

  1. jdc325 said

    Good stuff. I think you made an excellent point when you remarked that CAM practitioners pride themselves (whether true or not) on ‘extensive and sympathetic consultations’ – sympathy being something that seems not to come naturally to Obi. (Perhaps it comes “maverickly and ethically” rather than naturally).

    From a personal point of view, I’ve never been to an AltMed practitioner but I can say that the GPs I’ve visited have on the whole been sympathetic and as helpful as they possibly could have been. I think the idea that CAM practitioners are more sympathetic is a dubious generalisation that is actually insulting to the many sympathetic medical professionals working in the NHS. (And apart from the GPs being sympathetic, the treatments they prescribe might actually work!)

  2. apgaylard said

    Thanks for your comment. I agree entirely. The CAM marketing proposition seems based to a large degree on defining proper medical people as rushed symptom suppressers.

    I have to say that like you my experience with my last three GP’s has been that they have been very sympathetic and caring. My current GP is quite up for me having a double slot if I need. I had some BP troubles a few years back, rather than push the drugs my GP encouraged exercise and weight loss. I’d call that treating the whole person and getting to the basic causes of the trouble.

  3. draust said

    Kudos for a top piece of digging, AP. I had had a hunt around online for the Obi GMC judgement but hadn’t found it. It does make scary reading.

    Actually, it’s even worse than the Register says. A “thrombolytic” (the thing Obi didn’t give when it was indicated) is not a blood-thinner; it is a clot-busting drug. People with heart attacks (blocked arteries in the heart) need their arteries re-opening if at all possible. This can be done by angioplasty (using a catheter to “rod out” the artery) or with clot-digesting drugs (thrombolysis). It is absolutely critical that this is done fast, as the faster it gets done after the heart attack the better the chances, and every single minute makes a difference.

    Giving this therapy to patients who need it is potentially life-saving. The stats are roughly that for every 1000 patients given thrombolysis and aspirin after their heart attack, 50 of them have their lives saved by the treatment. So what the GMC judgement was saying was that Obi put the patient’s life in greater danger.

    I suspect the reason he was struck off was the combination, evident in the judgement, of potentially lethal lack incompetence, unreliability, arrogance, and complete lack of insight. Sort of a full house of professional deficiencies.

  4. apgaylard said

    Thanks for your insight. Funnily enough, I found the GMC judgement online (via The Register article) on the same day the GMC e-mailed it to me after a FOIA query I made.

    Obi’s obsession with the word “ethical” seems most odd when set in this context.

    Anyway, it’s a classic own goal. If he hadn’t gone after the quackometer I doubt that his GMC hearing judgement would be available on the internet. Glass houses and stones come to mind.

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