Mistakes and Consequences

Mistakes

 

Consequences

Placing the Presumption on the Wrong Side

 

The most common mistake people make is to subject persons with sensitivities to a reverse onus when they report their experience of repeatable, controllable circumstances, contrary to ethics, social convention and laws since the Magna Carta. This practice is unethical in any context, but becomes especially damaging in clinical medicine.

 

  • injuries and deaths by adverse drug reactions, deaths of persons with consequent eating disorders, suicides of persons with undiagnosed psychiatric sequelae.
  • children and adults placed at risk or abused in response to behaviours resulting from consequent undiagnosed learning disabilities, psychiatric sequelae
  • chronic health problems, financial damages, ruined careers, broken families, marginalization, suicides
  • failure to accommodate, barriers to normal life activities
  • need for income support

 

Invisibilizing Persons with Sensitivities

 

Some people forget that 15% of any population has sensitivities and needs to be accommodated if they are to avoid disabling reactions. This includes medical patients, psychiatric patients, people given prescription drugs, people attending public meetings, people needing income or housing support, employees, municipal residents, users of recreational facilities, people at risk for suicide, riders on public and private transit, senior citizens, students and homeowners.

Barriers / adverse health effects in:

  • housing, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, workplaces, stores, government facilities and other buildings
  • meetings, educational programs, conferences and other gatherings
  • heating, ventilation, transportation and other facilities
  • painting, pesticide application, cleaning, and other activities

 

Trivializing the Issues

 

Sometimes people portray sensitivities as causing only sniffles or headaches. They may not realize that carelessness and labelling may cause serious disability or death.

 

  • When people do not understand the serious consequences of misconceptions, they may not understand why it is important to correct those misconceptions.

 

Rewriting History

 

A popular misconception is that the history of sensitivities is relatively short. In fact there are hundreds of years of science, institutional and clinical experience, generations of people affected. A 1985 Ontario report identified an existing, publicly insured method of diagnosis that has been used by physicians for centuries. Health Canada and other federal departments and agencies were working to reduce preventable harm from 1988 to 1993.

 

  • creates atmosphere of mystery more appropriate for new phenomena
  • ignores traditional scientific, clinical, institutional and consumer experience and solutions
  • may invisibilize broader knowledge to favour a limited range of "new" treatments, products or services
  • enables abuse by hiding responsibility for ongoing damages and invisibilizes long existing means of reducing preventable harm

 

Using Inappropriate Terminology

 

It is a mistake to think of sensitivities as a disease. Sensitivities are not a specific disease entity. They result from any of a compendium of diseases, injuries, deficiencies and naturally occurring anomalies. “Environmental sensitivities” is an umbrella term, as was the word “allergy” before the identification of IgE mediated reactions in 1967. People with sensitivities react to substances, EMF, temperature, light or other phenomena at levels of exposure that do not seem to affect the majority.

The term “multiple chemical sensitivities” (MCS) describes, at best, an undifferentiable, arbitrarily defined subgroup of persons with sensitivities who are not a homogeneous group even within themselves, and who usually react to natural as well as synthetic substances.

 

  • creates confusion that can be used by unethical parties to obfuscate responsibilities, delay action on preventing harm
  • leads to inappropriate research expenditures such as attempts to find a consistent physiological marker when the patient population is not homogeneous
  • the concept of MCS artificially divides consumers, as happened when IgE mediated reactions were isolated in 1967.

 

Misrepresenting Organized Medicine

 

Many medical authorities have expressed concern about the ideas and approaches of health care practitioners concerning persons with sensitivities. This is not the same as expressing scepticism about the legitimacy of patients' health complaints. It is unethical to abuse people, regardless of the folly of some professionals who attach themselves to the group.

 

  • creates misconception that the problem is not known to be real by educated professionals, that it is reasonable to equivocate about the credibility and rights of patients
  • ignores long existing and well accepted means of diagnosis
  • scares politicians and bureaucrats into betraying persons with sensitivities to exclusion, injury and preventable death
  • is sometimes used by journalists to excuse bullying

 

Misunderstanding Science

 

People with sensitivities show no tendency towards a mean, because they are not a homogeneous group. The fact that there is no marker for sensitivities is a reflection of this fact, not an excuse for abusiveness. The diagnostic method that is encouraged by medical educators involves a comprehensive patient history, and perhaps a patient journal, accompanied by removal reintroduction testing. Human rights have paramountcy in ethics and law.

 

  • encourages wasteful research into impossible goals, such as the identification of a specific physiological marker
  • enables people to portray the lack of a specific marker as a reason to abuse persons with sensitivities
  • subverts all discussion about persons with sensitivities, their needs, history, accommodation

 

Scaring Patients

 

Parties who are liable for exclusion, injury and unnecessary killing often bully persons with lesser concerns by saying that if they talk about serious abuses their lesser concerns will not be dealt with.

Some physicians who have attached themselves to persons with sensitivities create a captive market by portraying any criticism of their (the physicians') ideas as resulting from doubt about the patients' sanity. Physicians whose ideas or approaches are criticized should not hide behind their patients' credibility. They should not pretend that flaws in their theories reflect, in any way, on the credibility of a patient's experience.

 

  • encourages persons with lesser problems to attempt to appease abusers by helping them invisibilize serious abuse
  • encourages persons with diagnosed sensitivities to become enablers of the exclusion, injury and killing of persons with undiagnosed sensitivities
  • physicians who claim to care about persons with sensitivities sabotage their patients' credibility

     

    Dealing with Symptoms Instead of Preventing Exposures

     

    Some authorities, including many school boards, believe that it is cheaper to deny or ignore sensitivities, to deal with the symptoms instead of preventing reactions.

    Canada Vigilance is counting the injured and killed instead of protecting high risk patients.

     

    • horrific child abuse, instead of accommodation
    • suicides of persons with improperly diagnosed central nervous system sequelae
    • Since 1993, more than 70,000 Canadians with sensitivities have been unnecessarily killed in health care, despite the fact that Health Canada was acting to protect high-risk patients until that year.

     

    Confusing Psychiatric Sequelae with Causes

     

    Sensitivities may affect any system of the body, usually including the central nervous system. The fact that a person with sensitivities may have psychiatric problems does not mean that mental illness is the cause of their sensitivities. In fact, if their mental dysfunction results from exposures, it is important to address sensitivities as a contributing factor. Failure to prevent reactions means that their mental dysfunction will continue unnecessarily.

     

    • inappropriate and damaging labelling
    • becomes impossible for person with sensitivities to get accommodation, protection
    • child abuse, of children with learning and behavioural disabilities, instead of accommodation
    • unnecessary killing of eating disorder patients
    • suicides of CNS reactors

     

    Sloppy Journalism

     

    Many journalists contribute to misconceptions by doing stories that repeat the mistakes listed on this page. One way this is done is by portraying debate about medical approaches as reason to question the legitimacy of the health complaint. This mistake is reinforced when defenders of only one medical approach are included in stories.

     

    • creates abusive public opinion
    • scares politicians and public servants
    • public misconceptions make it more difficult for persons with sensitivities to get needed accomodation
    • makes a sport out of peoples' rights and well being

     

    Being Unwilling to Acknowledge Mistakes

     

    Many people, including professionals, people who have a legal duty of care, continue to cause abuse or turn a blind eye simply because they cannot admit that they or their colleagues have made mistakes. People who think of themselves as enlightened, without prejudices, are often the worst offenders, the hardest to educate. Some observers feel that this is the main reason why lethal abuses continue.

     

    • continues unnecessary abuse
    • increases ongoing costs to everyone
    • increases liability
    • prevents resolution
    • abusers justify their own abusiveness