The alternative 

treatment must 

pose "no greater 

risk to a patient 

than the generally 

recognized or 







Unorthodox Medicine in Oregon
Several bills have been introduced supporting alternative care.
 By Jeanine DeNoma 
Several bills affecting the practice of "alternative medicine" have been proposed in the Oregon legislature. Senate Bill 499 and its corresponding House bill, HB 3340, would allow physicians to use alternative treatments and devices provided the doctor informed the patient of conventional treatments and of the risks and benefits of the proposed treatment and obtained written permission from the patient.

     "Alternative medical treatments" are defined as those practices: 1) not recognized by a specialty board of the American Board of Medical Specialties, 2) not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 3) which use therapeutic agents listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia or U.S. Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia, 4) demonstrated to be effective in medical literature or professional conferences or 5) which the physician has found by personal experience to be effective. The alternative treatment must pose "no greater risk to a patient than the generally recognized or standard treatment."

     These bills were introduced at the request of the Organization for Fairness in Medical Practice, lead by Dr. John Gambee, NM of Eugene. Gambee, a certified urologist, had his medical license revoked by the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners for using unorthodox treatments. According to the Oregonian (March 21, 1995) these treatments included laetrile for cancer, vitamin and nutrition therapies, intravenous chelation therapy for blood cleansing, ozone therapy to boost immune function, electroacupuncture techniques to detect inflammation along acupuncture meridians to identify allergies, and diagnosis of hypothyroidism without standard laboratory tests.

     "What Dr. Gambee offered is very caring, personal attention. But that's not medicine. That's part of medicine," said Dr. Sarah Hendrickson, MD, medical board member and family practitioner in Eugene.

     Gambee has countered charges, saying his patients must have a primary care physician and the therapies he uses are discussed in scientific journals. His defenders have waged a letter writing campaign and raised $20,000 for a court appeal of the decision revoking his license.

     "Let the market determine the matter," said Gambee, according to the Oregonian report. "If I'm a crackpot, how long would it be until I get run out of business?"

     According to Dr. Edward Heusch, vicechairman of the medical board, "There's a lot of pressure on us now to accept these alternative types of healing. But, there's still a point where the practice is unacceptable."

     As of this writing, both SB 499 and HB 3340 have been referred to committee. Two additional Senate bills, SB 811 and SB 757 requiring the State Board of Medical Examiners to include an alternative medical practitioner on their board, have also been referred to committee.

     If you are interested in following these or any other Oregon bills you can reach Salem online or by phoning 1(800)332-2313.

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