Naperville doctor disciplined, sued for autism treatment methods

A Naperville doctor, who was sued last year for medical malpractice, is now being accused by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation of not using proper medical judgment when treating patients with autism.

The doctor has been using alternative forms of treatment in autistic patients for years. Although the alternative methods of treatment have been praised by many, Illinois claims that evidence regarding the effectiveness of the different methods of treatments is lacking. Citing one specific case of medical malpractice, the state claims that the doctor tested the treatments on a Chicago boy even though there was no evidence to suggest that the treatments would be beneficial. In a complaint filed last week, the Illinois regulators claim that the Naperville doctor exercised, “extreme departure from rational medical judgment.”

In 2004, the Chicago boy was diagnosed with mild to moderate autism. Shortly after the child was diagnosed, the Naperville doctor began treating the boy. Over the following five years, the child was subjected to various forms of treatment including: dietary restrictions, antifungal drugs, hormone suppressors and dietary supplements. The boy also underwent hyperbaric oxygen treatments which consisted of the boy being enclosed in a pressurized bag filled with extra oxygen.

The boy’s father filed a lawsuit against the Naperville doctor last year claiming that the doctor had misled him about the effectiveness of the various forms of treatments. According to the complaint, the doctor told the boy’s mother that other children with autism had responded positively to the treatments. However, there was little research at the time that actually suggested that the treatments were indeed effective.

The lawsuit filed by the boy’s father is ongoing, and now Illinois regulators want to make certain that the doctor is disciplined for her unorthodox approach to treating other autistic patients. The state claims that none of the methods in which the doctor had used when treating the Chicago boy had been proven to help autistic patients. Regulators are asking that the doctor’s license be revoked or suspended.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Illinois medical board files complaint against star autism doctor,” Trine Ysouderos, Oct. 14, 2011

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