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Integrative Health Care Centers of America

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

The formation of Integrative Health Care Centers of America (IHCCA) was announced on April 19, 2001, in a press release from Talk International, which stated:

A prominent doctor in Chicago and a leading-edge dentist in Florida have come together with others across the country to form Integrative Health Care Centers of America (IHC), and already doctors and dentists across the country are knocking on their doors asking to join the team.

According to Dr. Mercola, who specializes in environmental medicine in Chicago, "not enough research money has been made available to investigate integrative, leading-edge therapies that have proved in clinical practice to be beneficial to the patient. While the American demand for natural health care is at an all time high, as the public becomes more and more frustrated with traditional doctors, the amount of conflicting information that is out there puts the American public into a situation where they have an extremely difficult time separating beneficial therapies from those that are not."

One of the primary goals of IHC is to establish working groups within the various disciplines, which will allow for the sharing of information and experiences within the group, to the ultimate benefit of the patient." Another goal of IHC is to be a strong voice in North American Health Care.

Across both the U.S. and Canada doctors and dentists have been challenged by various licensing bodies for supporting their patients right to 'Informed Consent' and for making alternative therapies available to their patients. Invariably these doctors are picked off individually, and are put into situations where they face massive legal bills and disruptions to their practices and home lives, often for no wrong doing at all. There is no better example of this, than the case of Dr. Douglas Phillips, a leading-edge dentist practicing in Florida, who was brought before the Florida State Dental Board for providing treatment that although peer reviewed, was outside of the 'Standard of Care' established by the Florida Dental Board. . . .

At the current rate of inquires, IHC expects that by the end of May to represent over 1,000 clinics across North America. It is their hope later this year, to introduce an internal finance program, to help environmentally ill patients, and patients poisoned with mercury and other environmental toxins, who require immediate treatment, to get that treatment on a timely basis [1].

Talk International is operated by Wayne Obie, whose public relations agency is located in or near Toronto, Canada. His Web site contains many pages of information attacking the use of dental amalgam. Joseph Mercola, D.O., practices in Schaumburg, Illinois, maintains a large Web site, and publishes a weekly e-mail newsletter. I am suing Obie for libel [2].

Douglas Phillips, D.D.S., practices dentistry in West Palm Beach, Florida. On August 15, 2001, an Administrative Law Judge concluded that he had violated Florida's Dental Practice Act by (a) failing to keep adequate records, (b) failing to maintain malpractice insurance, and (c) practicing below the standard of care. The Judge recommended that Phillips be fined $3,000 per violation and have his license suspended for one year, followed by five years of probation. The judge's decision will be reviewed by Florida's Board of Dentistry, which can concur with or modify the recommended disposition. Phillips is expected to appeal through the court system but is unlikely to be successful [3].

Meanwhile, the extent to which IHCCA is active is not clear. Notices on the Talk International Web site state that the organization is open to "Biological & Mercury Free Dentists, Doctors, Naturopaths, Homeopaths, Chiropractors, D.O.'s, M.D.s" and that registration for a Web-based "directory of North America's leading health care providers" would cost $300 for 1 year and $400 for two years. However, no directory has been published, and the link to "learn more about IHCCA" is broken. IHCCA members are invited to join a Yahoo-based list called "Doctors Teaching Doctors," which is said to offer "a library of medical information for doctors interested in heavy metal detoxification. As of September 18, 2001, the number of list members was only 9.

A few hundred dentists claim that the mercury in silver-amalgam fillings is toxic and causes a wide range of health problems. However, scientific testing has shown that the amount of mercury absorbed from fillings is only a small fraction of the average daily intake from food and is insignificant [4]. The American Dental Association Council on Ethics, Bylaws, and Judicial Affairs considers the unnecessary removal of silver-amalgam fillings "improper and unethical."

References

  1. Obie W. Doctors and dentists across the U.S. join together to increase patients right to informed consent & access to integrative health care. News release, Talk International, April 19, 2001.
  2. Dr. Stephen Barrett and Dr. Robert S. Baratz vs Wayne Obie, Talk Canada, Frances Perrin, and Talk International. Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Filed June 28, 2001.
  3. Barrett S. Suspension recommended for Douglas J. Phillips, DDS. Quackwatch Web site, Sept 15, 2001.
  4. Barrett S. The mercury amalgam scam. Quackwatch Web site, Aug 13, 2001.

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This article was posted on September 18, 1999.