Sydney medical practice sued over ‘Slapping Therapy’ death of diabetic boy – the first crack in this unholy alliance?

I have some great news, I’m not the guy in the photo! But seriously, who would do stuff like this? About a year ago I’ve written about the tragic death of a young boy at the hands of a ‘slapping therapy’ quack. This particular quack claimed (and still do) that by slapping yourself, or by being slapped by someone else, you will unblock your chi (life force, energy, whatever) that flows through meridians – this is the central tenet of what is collectively known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). So, by slapping yourself you will be cured of whatever medical problem you might have. It is truly bizarre to think that there are actually people that fall for this trickery, and even more bizarre to think that some people are so into it, that they will subject a sick helpless child to this strange form of fatal abuse.

So, the good news is that the slapping therapist, Hongchi Xiao, has been arrested and as far as I can tell, has been in and out of court over the last year or so – I truly hope that he will get a very long jail sentence. Now, something that I’ve been calling for is that the medical practice, which at the time was known as Tasly Healthpac, the university (Western Sydney University) and specifically the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), and to some degree the regulator (Therapeutic Goods Administration) should also be facing court – they are all involved in this, and unfortunately in many other similar practices (and to think that Dr Kerryn Phelps who is currently running as an independent in the all important Wentworth by-election is intricately involved with the NICM and their modus operandi – but more about this in a next article).

So, the even better news is that the parents of the victim have recently sued Tasly Healthpac and its director Dr Ven Tan.  It is not yet excellent news, because the NICM and the regulators are still getting away with it, but hopefully their day in court will come sooner rather than later.

I’ve copied the article published in the Sydney Morning Herald below. It is a very interesting article because is saying quite a lot. Thou should not hate, but oh boy, it is sometimes quite difficult not to develop a heartfelt hatred towards quacks and quackery. I’ll comment on just one aspect below the article.

Start of article

A Sydney couple is suing a medical practice over the death of their six-year-old son, who attended a “self-healing” course in its rooms and later died from insulin deprivation. But the practice claims the couple were already acolytes of the therapy, helped organise the course and were themselves to blame for the boy’s death.

Aidan Fenton, a Year 1 student from Prospect in Sydney’s west, fell unconscious in the Ritz Hotel, Hurstville, about 9pm on a Monday in April 2015 and could not be revived. Over the previous week, Aidan had participated in a treatment called Paidalajin, promoted and overseen by Chinese national Hongchi Xiao. The so-called therapy involves individuals stretching, fasting and slapping their skin to the point of bruising in order to “unblock meridians” in the body.

The five-day workshop was advertised by the Tasly Healthpac medical centre in Hurstville, which collected fees of $1800 from participants and provided Mr Xiao with rooms. Aidan’s father Jeff, mother Lily Pan and grandmother Guo Ying Yin have launched legal action against Mr Xiao, as well as the medical centre and its director, former Australian GP of the Year Chin Ven Tan.

According to a claim filed by the Fenton family to the NSW Supreme Court, Aidan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a year before he died. His mother registered him for Mr Xiao’s Paidalajin course, where she was allegedly told to cease his insulin doses as the therapy would cure his diabetes instead. Three days later, Aidan’s father was said to have questioned Mr Xiao and told that a deterioration in his son’s health “was an expected part of the Paidalajin treatment process.”

Aidan’s health deteriorated further. His family claims Mr Xiao said it was not necessary to take him to hospital and instead offered to care for the boy overnight at the Ritz Hotel, near the treatment centre. His grandmother remained with him as his condition worsened and he lost consciousness.

The family say Mr Xiao, the practice and Dr Ven Tan all failed to act in accordance with their duties of care. “The cessation of administration of insulin to Aidan Fenton from 22 April 2015 was a necessary condition of his death,” the legal claim said.

Dr Ven Tan and his medical practice have denied responsibility in their defences, arguing it was the Fenton family who behaved negligently in treating the workshop as medical advice.

They said Mr Fenton and his wife personally delivered four “custom-made Paidalajin stretching benches” to the medical practice in the days before the course, equipment that the couple had purchased from Mr Xiao’s Australian representative. The couple were “co-organisers of the workshop and/or [Mr Xiao’s] own staff, volunteer and/or followers who participated in the organisation of the workshop,” the defences state.

Ms Pan allegedly signed a registration form containing a warning in English and Chinese that people with severe health problems should not participate in the course and that nothing taught in it should be a substitute for medical advice. Mr Xiao has not filed a defence. At a brief hearing on Wednesday, the matter was adjourned to next year.

End of article

I’ve said it many times before, that a quack will almost never criticise a specific complementary medicine, because as soon as they do so, they highlight the fact that the principles upon which their ‘medicine’ or ‘treatment’ are based, is fake. And this is of course a problem, because all of their medicines and treatments, albeit homeopathy, TCM, chiropractic etc, are based on the same (fake) principles. Destroy the foundation of one and the whole house of cards collapse, and this is why they will always remain quiet about it.

Dr Ven Tan, who now luckily has been sued, had a wonderful opportunity to sincerely apologise for hosting this workshop and to warn the public about the dangers of  slapping therapy (and many other quack therapies doing the rounds). And of course, he could’ve explained why this therapy is built on fake principles. Why would he want to do this? Because he cares about your health!! Warn the public then!!! But no, as a true quack not a single word of warning, rather a somewhat brutal attack on the victim’s parents (the parents do indeed also carry part of the blame).  And this is so typical of quacks. Things go wrong, more often than most people would like, and then it is as if they tell the victims that it’s due to their own stupidity that they have fallen for their quackery. You know, please don’t blame the quack.

And that is how it goes in the strange world of quackery. And to think that those guys who are still getting away with it, has in the meantime cooperated with the Chinese Communist party to establish a TCM hospital in Sydney from where they can further internationalise TCM, in all its forms – and all of this just for money (lots of it). You can read about this unfolding tragedy here, here, here and here.

I truly hope that the NICM and the TGA will also one day face court because they are the ones giving credibility to these fake and dangerous healthcare options. But then again, they are so connected that they can squash anything.

Western Sydney University’s complementary medicine research institute promotes good news and ignores bad, critics say!

There are two very important aspects that the public should consider regarding any new medical treatment.

  1. Are there benefits and is this backed up with scientific evidence.
  2. What are the risks associated with this treatment.

Based on these two aspects, benefits vs risks, a consumer can make an informed decision. Usually when doctors or professors overemphasise the one aspect over the other then you should know that they probably have a “financial” finger in the pie. If the benefits are overstated and the risks ignored – then they really want to sell you this stuff.

Recently the NICM made the headlines.  A newspaper article  states “UWS complementary research institute promotes good news and ignores bad, critics say.” The overall impression is given that the NICM is misleading the public and the work that they do is completely dependent on what the CM industry wants. An example is given where research conducted at the NICM was being sold to the public in a misleading way – which the NICM of course denies. This specific study reports on the positive results of a 20-herb TCM clinical trial for people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  The misleading way in which the NICM sold this result to the public via radio interviews have been described here, here and here and the main reason for them to do this seems to be money.

That the NICM will continue to defend this can now again be seen where they state: “Professor Bensoussan said his was a rigorous study that was highly cited and its findings were “accurate and not misleading”. “The results showed statistically and clinically significant improvement in irritable bowel syndrome in both standardised and individualised Chinese medicine treatment groups by end of the 16 weeks intervention when compared to a placebo,”

They had a golden opportunity to tell the public the whole story which they again failed to do.  They use the term “highly cited” as an indication of quality and validity of their study. This should now convince the reader that they are doing high quality independent scientific research, thus you can trust the results. But an educated guess is that most of these citations originates from China where bizarrely enough close to 100% of clinical trials conducted on herbal TCM give positive results. A UK study on the other hand gave a much more balanced view and concluded that the major finding is actually ignored and that the results are optimistically interpreted.

But this is not really the point. Nowhere will you find the very important aspect of “risks”. Yes, the study concluded that there seems to be some benefit for IBS sufferers but no mention is made of the very long list of risks associated with taking herbs. The reason why they combine 20 herbs is to improve their chances of finding at least one molecule that will have a beneficial effect – I call this the shotgun approach. The problem is however that by doing this you also increase your risk 20-fold.

What the NICM should have said regarding this particular study is something like this. “ Our study showed that there seems to be some benefit, as compared to the placebo, for people suffering from IBS. However, based on the well known risks such as toxicity, adverse reactions, herb-herb interaction, herb-drug interaction, lack of quality control, adulteration ect. we cannot recommend this herbal treatment. The risks outweigh the benefits.”

It is however unfortunate that even after all this information was made available to the NICM they continue to provide the public with misleading information – and the recent newspaper article just confirms this. The NICM only focus on the positive results of their study and they completely ignore the negatives (risks). They will not change their stance and will continue on their path. However, the main positive outcome thus far of this newspaper article is that I have been contacted by the office of the NSW Minister of Health regarding this matter and hopefully this will now get the ball rolling.

What can you do about all of this?

Unfortunately, if you fall for their trickery and you get hurt, then you will be all alone. The bureaucracy involved is extremely complex so the best thing to do is prevention. Stop buying their products or using their treatments, and inform yourself and your family and friends about how these people play their game and what the dangers are regarding these ‘treatments’. ‘Friends of Science in Medicine’ provides valuable healthcare information as well as the website of Prof Edzard Ernst, where he discusses everything complementary medicine (what works and what doesn’t). If you are interested in receiving automatic updates regarding the NICM and what they are up to, you can always follow my Blog,  Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. Will keep you posted regarding the outcome of the 2017 Bent Spoon awards (the NICM has obviously been nominated), and please, ‘Like’ and share this article via FaceBook etc. – options below.