Practicing Medicine Without a License

Not infrequently, patients question me about a medication because they’ve heard it’s unsafe. Often it’s from lawyers advertising the dangers of a particular medication or medical product. Although on occasion this may be a good service, most of the time it’s not.

All medications have both benefits and risks, and just because there is a potential problem, doesn’t mean it’s not worth the risk, and it doesn’t mean that alternatives are any safer.

Lately I’ve had patient’s refuse to take Actos for fear of bladder cancer. I don’t see lawyers advertizing about sulfonylureas, probably because they are generic, but they are more likely to cause hypoglycemia, which is much more common than bladder cancer, and may be more serious.

Maybe we need lawyers to go after the lawyers. “Did you suffer any problems after stopping a medicine because you read that it’s dangerous?” Sure, they’ll claim first amendment rights, but maybe they could charge them with practicing medicine without a license.

Author: Daniel Ginsberg, MD, FACP

I'm an internal medicine physician and have avidly applied computers to medicine since 1986, when I wrote my first medically oriented computer programs. So yes, that means I'm at least 35-years-old!

One thought on “Practicing Medicine Without a License”

  1. I especially like the drug manufacturers TV ads that glorify the benefits and then, as the happy looking patient goes out on the town, a steady, soft voice warns of death, permanent movement disorders and suicide. Also, if you have any of these problems be sure to call your MD.

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