Disciplinary Actions against
Homeopathic Medical Doctors
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
This article describes how several doctors have been disciplined by their state licensing boards for prescribing homeopathic medication instead of proven medical treatment. The links provide additional information about what happened.
Warren Metzler, M.D. practiced what he called "constitutional homeopathy" in the 1980s and early 1990s. 1992, the New York State Board of Professional Medical Conduct charged him with mismanaging the care of four patients, one of whom died. All four had symptoms of serious diseases that required medical treatment and/or referral. Metzler testified that he used homeopathic remedies to "treat the entire person" rather than treating diseases. He also testified that illness is the result of a restricted spirit, there is no such thing as an incurable illness, and that it was not necessary to do standard diagnostic testing or repeated physical examinations. The board sustained charges of gross negligence, negligence on more than one occasion, and failure to maintain records. Metzler requested an administrative review in which he asserted that practicing a field of medicine that differs from the weight of medical authority does not constitute negligence. The review board noted that there are no different standards for licensed physicians based on their philosophy, religion, or personal approach to their calling. Metzler petitioned through the courts, but in April 1994, his appeal was denied. In 1992, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners launched an investigation of Metzler that included a visit by an undercover consumer investigator who complained of rectal bleeding. The investigator reported that Metzler conducted a brief physical examination, ordered no laboratory tests, and gave her a packet of powder that he described as a homeopathic remedy made from ground oyster shells. Following hearings, the board concluded that Metzler did not meet minimum medical standards and revoked his license.
Kay S. Lawrence, M.D. practiced in New York State from 1976 through 1996. In 1996, the New York State Board of Professional Conduct revoked her medical license after concluding that her treatment of two patients had been incompetent and grossly negligent and that she had failed to keep adequate records. The revocation document stated:
The Committee held a firm conviction that Respondent's inadequate treatment of Patients A and B demonstrated a deficiency in elementary clinical skills that would necessitate some form of retaining. However, Respondent practices from a clinic and testified that she has no hospital practice and does not treat acute conditions. Her practice primarily consists of anthroposophic medicine. The Hearing Committee concluded that there would be little benefit to either Respondent or the public to require her to participate in a retraining program in internal medicine or a related allopathic medicine specialty. The Committee believed Respondent maintained a substandard level of skill in the traditional practice of medicine which needed to be addressed to enable her to maintain her medical license. Since she primarily maintains a homeopathic practice, practice supervision or monitoring of patient records by an allopathic· practitioner would not address those deficiencies which the Hearing Committee felt needed to be resolved. It determined that no practical penalty could be developed which could effectively protect the health and safety of the public in the future and concluded that the revocation of Respondent's medical license was the only appropriate penalty in this case.
Jarir Nakouzi, M.D. purported to treat cancer with homeopathic products. In 2011, he signed a consent order under which he agreed to (a) pay $5,000, (b) stop using devices that measure skin resistance for diagnostic or treatment purposes, (c) refrain from recommending, prescribing, or administering any alleged cancer treatment that lacks FDA approval or scientific support, and (d), serve probation for two years, during which at least 20 of his patient charts would be subject to random review by a supervisor acceptable to the Connecticut Department of Health. The agreement settled charges related to Nakouzi's treatment of a patient who had received standard treatment for breast cancer but was terminally ill. The complaint had charged that Nakouzi deviated from the standard of care by failing to get adequate informed consent, failing to maintain adequate documentation, and using a bioresonance device as a diagnostic technique. The situation was vividly described in a Newsweek article.
Edwin Gray III, M.D. has practiced homeopathy in California for more than 40 years. In May 2018, the California Medical Board accused him of unprofessional conduct, gross negligence, and/or repeated negligent acts related to his marketing of sound files he called "eRemedies," which his Web site claimed were created by the extracting "energetic signals" in homeopathic remedies with a device consisting of a simple coil connected to an amplifier and digitizer and storing the resulting signals as .wav or M3 files. The site also claimed that these products were effective in treating anxiety/panic/phobia; back pain; bites and stings; bladder infection; cholera; cough; diarrhea; earache; fever; grief; head injury; headache; infant colic; influenza; injury; labor delivery; malaria; menstrual pain; pet abscess; pet bladder infection; teething, toothache; and typhoid. The medical board's accusation states that Gray (a) had failed to register his offerings with the FDA, (b) lacked evidence that homeopathic remedies can be transmitted electronically via sound waves, (c) was marketing remedies not eligible for over-the-counter status, (d) was negligent by not examining patients to whom he sold products, and (e) had practiced in 2016 and 2017 even though his medical license status was delinquent. The Los Angeles Times reported that Gray did not plan to contest the current allegations because he practiced homeopathy full-time and didn't believe he needed a medical license to continue doing that. The board revoked his license in July 2018.
This article was posted on September 14, 2019.