Many Americans today have used a chiropractor for a sore back or massage therapist for an ache or a pain. Complementary medicines and alternative therapies are a growing part of health care in America today. Americans spend billions of dollars a year on alternative treatments and most medical schools offer courses in alternative therapies. Not to mention in some countries complementary medicine may be the only form of healing available but in the west many people choose this from of treatment to supplement the services provided by otherwise orthodox medicine. Complementary alternative medicine (CAM) encompasses a wide range of popular treatment modalities that are outside conventional practice and generally lack sufficient scientific evidence of their safety and effectiveness. These treatments include herbal agents, homeopathic preparations, chiropractic manipulations, massage, acupuncture, meditation, and prayer (Peter Curtis, 2012). The importance of complementary alternative medicines is reflected in the increasing use by medical doctors and the considerable demand for these therapies. The use of CAM in the United States is widespread and growing and it is recognized in many developing nations, due to it being the dominant form of medical care. So where does complementary alternative medicine fit into the ethical structure of our health care system?
Define the problem:
There has been an increase in the use of complementary/alternative therapies that has occurred over the past decade. This situation has precipitated many ethical issues including those related to safety, scope of practice, and standard of practice. Practitioners must be educated about the pros and cons of complementary/alternative therapies and be prepared to discuss and help resolve ethical issues surrounding them. Because of the popularity of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) 42% of the citizens in the
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