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 US use the method of treatment in accordance to 20% of the United Kingdom (E Ernest, 2012). There are very few differences in ethics of CAM and the more conventional way medicine; requirements like informed consent, confidentiality and privacy falls under the same category. A lot of the regulatory framework that governs conventional medicine that would incorporate ethical obligations in more ways than one converts over to complementary alternative medicines practices. An example of that would be but not limited to, legal rules that govern professional liability (informed consent), licensures, and malpractice procedures. Literature Review:
What was discovered after careful researching CAM is that in April 2003, the Therapeutic Goods Administration initiated the recall of more than 1600 complementary medicines from the Australian marketplace (Department of Health and Aging, 2012). This was the largest recall of medicines in Australia; the recall was a result of the failure of one medicine manufacturer to maintain appropriate manufacturing and quality control standards. Resulting from the recall, consumer groups, health professionals, as well as researchers and practitioners raised concerns regarding the level of trust for complementary medicines. These concerns included doubts about the trust consumers would have in the information available about complementary medicines and confidence in their effectiveness. The role of complementary healthcare practitioners also came under scrutiny. The level of education and training of practitioners, lack of qualification and registration requirements, and the inconsistency of regulation across jurisdictions, raised questions about the degree to which the community can depend on their expertise and advice. According to Kerry Breen author of “Ethical issues in the use of complementary medicines”, wrote that doctors who practice or recommend alternative or complementary medicine have additional ethical responsibilities...
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