Alternatives Therapies in Hospitals

Several hospitals affiliated with top universities including Yale, Duke and John Hopkins are doing something surprising. They are offering alternative therapies. They are not offering energy healing to help multiple sclerosis, acupuncture for infertility, homeopathic bee venom for fibromyalgia or herbal therapy to reverse Alzheimer’s because they suddenly believe in them. They know these are not likely to have medical results, but they also know that these are what patients want, and why not give them what they want. Hospitals which are now almost exclusively for profits have MBAs on their staff, and talk of their patients as customers. As customers it is their job to sell them what they want . There are those who feel such hospitals are making doctors no better than witch doctors, there are those who rationalize and say who are we to decide what is helpful. They acknowledge the placebo effect or psychological benefits a patient may receive from one of those unproven therapies.
The line between traditional and alternative medicine has shifted, but like the use of meditation or certain supplements such as zinc or vitamin C, these, as well as others, are included with the back up of research. The new wave of alternative therapies’ inclusion is different. The motivation does not seem to be the search for other ways, better ways to help patients. Rather the emphasis seems to be on profits, meaning that the blurring of the line between traditional an alternative medicine no longer appears to be for the sake of the patients, but for that of the hospital’s bottom line. It’s therefore up to us to decide how we participate in this and to what extent we want to validate or endorse this new practice.