How to Spot a Scam or Fraud in the Medical Field?

1 January 2017

There are many way to spot a scam or fraud in the medical field. Medical frauds range from people posing as doctors and practicing without a license, to useless supplements, worthless or dangerous diet aides, fake medicines and cures for cancer. Making good health decisions is hard and sadly some immoral people make it even more difficult by attempting to deceive and cheat the sick. Not everyone knows enough about medicine to spot a medical fraud or scam but this essay will give you some places to start.

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Avoiding medical fraud is important because a delay in real treatment can create potentially deadly complications. You should know that some medical frauds are simply con artists. Some medical fraud is simply a con artist looking for a quick pay off, so you must know how to spot a con man. You also have to understand that many medical frauds are victims themselves. Many people who push bad medicine believe that they are actually helping because they have been fooled themselves by someone else. With these people the standard methods of spotting a con artist will not work because they honestly want to help.

You should always check for the phrase “cure-all”. If a person tells you something is a cure-all 99% of the time it is actually a cure-nothing. Real medicine recognizes that each disease is unique and so there is no single procedure or substance that can cure all. Check for a single cause theory will also help. The corollary to the cure-all fraud is the single cause theory. This is simply the claim that all diseases and conditions can be explained by a single cause. Common examples of this fraud include unbalanced energy or toxins. Asking about side effects is important.

Anything that has an ability to affect your body positively could also affect it negatively. If a person tells you that their treatment never has any side effects, you are likely dealing with a fraud or scam. You must listen for conspiracy theories. Since they lack scientific evidence to support their practice many medical frauds resort to wild-eyed conspiracy theories regarding other medicines. A popular example is the claim that scientists have cured all cancer, but they keep it secret so that they can make more money selling medicines for the symptoms.

Obviously false as a patent on the cure for cancer would be the most valuable commodity the world has ever known. Listen for spiritual claims will also help. Spirituality is great, but it has no place in medicine. If a person claims a spiritual mechanism for how their treatments work, you might be dealing with a fraud of some type. While there are links between emotional well-being and physical condition, there is no medically-proven program for treating physical symptoms with mental or spiritual techniques.

Pay for it at your own risk. Listen for claims regarding “toxins”. A popular fraud right now is the claim that everyone’s body accumulates mysterious toxins, usually in the colon or liver but sometimes throughout the entire body. Frauds claim that these mysterious toxins need to be removed because they are the cause of all diseases and ailments. This process often involves enemas, fasting, or ingesting a wide variety of herbs. There is no scientific evidence that the toxins exist, or that the cleansing process is at all beneficial.

In many cases it is actually harmful. You should never take any medical advice from a person who recommends this treatment. Ask for their official title and look it up. Real medical professionals have what is called a “protected title”. This means that laws do not allow just anyone to call themselves by that title, you must first complete recognized training. Many frauds create a title that closely resembles the legally protected title and hope that average people do not know the difference. For example, dietitian and nutritionist.

Only dietitian is protected, which means that anyone may call themselves a nutritionist if they wish. People without legally protected titles are not always frauds and scam artists, but they are much more likely to be. You should ask for their opinion on vaccinations. If someone opposes vaccinations it is a sure sign that they are some form of a medical fraud or quack, or at the very least uneducated. Ask a doctor that you trust. If you ever aren’t sure about something get a second opinion from a doctor that you know well and trust.

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