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Medical group threatens to sue journal

A professional medical association has threatened to sue a scientific journal over an linkurl:article;http://www.ijoeh.com/pfds/IJOEH_1304_LaDou02.pdf accusing the group of pandering to industry. The article was published in the most recent issue of the __International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health__ (__IJOEH__), and it claims that members of the linkurl:American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine;http://www.acoem.org/ (ACOEM) have "deeply embedded" conflicts

By | November 20, 2007

A professional medical association has threatened to sue a scientific journal over an linkurl:article;http://www.ijoeh.com/pfds/IJOEH_1304_LaDou02.pdf accusing the group of pandering to industry. The article was published in the most recent issue of the __International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health__ (__IJOEH__), and it claims that members of the linkurl:American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine;http://www.acoem.org/ (ACOEM) have "deeply embedded" conflicts of interest. The article, by the __IJOEH__'s editor and members of the journal's editorial board, also says that the ACOEM, "provides a legitimizing professional association for company doctors, and continues to provide a vehicle to advance the agendas of their corporate sponsors." The 23-page article claims that ACOEM members employed by the petrochemical industry blocked the association from taking a stand against global warming and calls the society's journal, the __Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine__ (__JOEM__), "decidedly pro-industry in its editorial policy and publications." The ACOEM fired back at the __IJOEH__, publishing on its website an open linkurl:letter;http://www.acoem.org/ResponseToIJOEH.aspx from the group's president, Robert McLellan. He writes that the __IJOEH__ article "offers what is essentially a giant conspiracy theory involving virtually all sectors of our profession." According to a linkurl:story;http://chronicle.com/news/article/3454/medical-society-considers-suing-journal on __The Chronicle of Higher Education__'s website, the ACOEM has demanded that the __IJOEH__ retract the article and has threatened a lawsuit against the journal. In a letter to IJOEH's publisher, Sandy Lovegrove, McLellan calls the article and an accompanying essay, "irresponsible, unfair and grossly distorting of the facts." Lovegrove responded to McLellan's letter, writing: "This article was peer reviewed, its content is considered important, and it has been published openly in the hope that it will provide important information to the community." Lovegrove also explains that the ACOEM denied the article's authors access to files which they requested for fact checking before the article was published. This is not the first time that the ACOEM's journal has been called out for questionable activities. In 2005, we linkurl:reported;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22663/ on a researcher whose editorial critiquing an industry-funded study from another journal was rejected from __JOEM__ and was later published when he bought two pages of ad space in which to print the article. McLellan has submitted a letter to the editor of __IJOEH__ that attempts to defend the ACOEM.
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Comments

Avatar of: Deborah Davitt

Deborah Davitt

Posts: 2

November 21, 2007

As someone directly impacted by mold, I assure it is no laughing matter and the article published in IJEOH is long overdue.\n\nEvery doctor that I saw for two years was clueless about the myriad of fairly abrupt onset symptoms. In graduate school and employed, I found myself unable to perform the most basic of my tasks. Through a sequence of ironic events, I discovered mold in my apartment's HVAC system, carpet padding, and walls that apparently began as an unresolved or improperly repaired roof leak.\n\nIronically, ten months earlier in fall of 2000, I happened upon an issue of JAMA in the ENT's waiting room that contained the Mayo article about chronic sinusitis. I asked the doctor if it was possible my recurring sinus problems could be that, he summarily replied in the negative. I handed him his issue of JAMA and suggested he might want to read them. \n\nI went to another ENT and after several visits asked the question about fungal sinusitis and was immediately given the same answer. Given that this was a doctor I had known personally, I was surprised at his failure to consider it or order appropriate testing. I asked two more doctors the same question, one being a relative, both said no without hesitation, it wasn't possible to have a fungal infection of the sinuses. Two months later, through dumb luck or a higher power's grace, I stepped in a wet spot in my hallway and traced the source of the moisture to the HVAC closet. The rest is too long to recount here.\n\nOne of the doctors described above had employed the services of a mold remediator about 1 1/2 yrs prior to my seeing them, this info coming from the remediator himself. This same doctor had divested into commercial real estate in the 1970's. So had two others. The last I cannot say.\n\nI can go on and provide other legitimate anecdotes regarding chemical exposures and doctors denying or refusing to acknowledge, test for, or treat for exposures. The proof is only a couple of hours of a researcher's time to verify my statements.\n\nThese people were perfectly willing to see someone that they knew and her child suffer needlessly. As far as I can tell, I am not abrasive enough to have warranted that kind of mistreatment and my child certainly did not.\n\nHere in Louisiana, business, insurance, real estate, law, and medicine are nearly inextricably intertwined to the advantage of those professionals and disadvantage of us mere prey, I mean citizens. Woe to anyone who would stand up to them, double woe for a professional to take a stand for the patient/client.\n\nThe squealing heard from ACEOM on this sounds like they know the genie is out of the bottle and it is never going back in. Many decent doctors rely on their specialty professional organizations to provide them with updated, timely information toward the treatment of their patients. These medical professionals are swamped with their daily duties, many of which are more administrative chores relating to insurance, coding, etc..., and believe that these journals have sifted through the mountains of available, credible medical and scientific research and provided them with the kernels necessary for advancement in the field. I suspect when they realize that they, too, have had the wool pulled over their eyes, there will be some nervous con artists out there. \n\nI still have a difficult time grasping the fact that a doctor with no clinical experience would take one rodent study and extrapolate that mold exposure was no big deal, then promulgate that out to practicing doctors under the auspices of a professional journal. But, truth is stranger than fiction. \n\n\n

November 21, 2007

The significance of this story is in the inference that no matter how well researched and factually supported a paper can be, if it is at odds with the interests of larger corporate concerns, then the authors can be subject to legal retaliation or worse.\n\nThis issue goes beyond the obvious conflicts of interest surrounding the ACOEM and it?s activities ? what is at stake is the ability of legitimate scientific researchers to advance knowledge for the greater good. If this suit is to sucessfully go forward, then researchers and educators everywhere will need to consider what the potential implications of their work is in regards to industrial stakeholders, or continue at \ntheir own peril.\n\nSincerely\n\nJonathan Lee Wright\nDirector\nFungal Disease Resource Center, Inc.\nhttp://www.fdrcinc.org
Avatar of: Katherine Duff

Katherine Duff

Posts: 1

November 21, 2007

It's about time. The ACOEM may want to squirm their way out of acknowledging their industry ties but one thing they cannot deny is their absolute uselessness in addressing environmental health concerns.\n\nA perfect example occured after 9/11. As the environmental disaster unfolded, their website made no mention of environmental health issues. Not one! Their many emergency bulletins were limited to advice for medical directors' need to address the psychological stress of employees across the country.\n\nIf they want to threaten lawsuits - so be it. They will have to open their records for discovery. That just may be what is needed to expose the corporate control of environmental health issues in this country. \nIn fact, why not countersue with a RICO case. We just cannot afford to wait any longer for these medical professionals to find their moral compass while Gulf War vets, 9/11 workers, mold injured, chemically injured and the millions of other environmentally injured people (under different names) are systematically thrown overboard to save powerful corporations from liability claims.
Avatar of: Dr. Hamilton

Dr. Hamilton

Posts: 1

November 21, 2007

From time to time the malcontents at the IJOEH publish basically the same silly accusations. Then they vanish for a few more years until their need for attention resurfaces. No one reads the IJOEH. No one cares about it. No one takes it seriously.
Avatar of: Darlene  Berube

Darlene Berube

Posts: 1

November 22, 2007

Are you saying we/us, as the patients of America are stupid and predictable. How do you earn your paycheck, is it because of all of us stupid and predictable patients making comments, fighting for what we believe in. This is how I am reading your comment. So, Actually you did comment so what does that make yours. Am I making sense here?\n\nI wish you could live my life for one day. See what if feels like to experience the struggles to take a breath, pass out with no warning, breath with oxygen, take 12 medications to get you through the day because of what toxic mold is doing to you, have many other illensses caused from the molds that have been proven as doing so, and tell your 3 year old grand-daughter that she can't sleep over your house because of all the toxic mold in the HVAC system in the entire 9 floor building that houses disabled and elderly persons could kill you. Sure she won't understand, but someone of your stature and others know how deadly it is to live in such an environment, but yet choose to ignore it and down play it.\n\nYou might think my comment is stupid, and predictable but being a former nurse my comment is not more predictable and stupid as your comment that you just made is. I, like many would like to see you retract that comment. If it weren't for us that make these stupid and predictable comments you wouldn't be in practice like many. I am not going to appologise for my comment here, or justify it either, because ONE of my rights is freedom of speech, just as it is yours. Just let me know where your state is so that I don't ever come see you as a physician. Do you feel that when you were seeing patients, they made stupid and predictable comments?\n\nJust remember, that your comment reflects on thousands if not millions of people that read these posts, and the millions that do read the IJOEH and like what it has to say. Some of those authors and experts are fighting for us patients and our rights as mold victims. Where do you stand? Do you not believe in the quality of life, the patient/doctor relationship? \n\nIf No one reads the IJOEH, and No one cares about it and No one takes it seriously than why are you making comments here today. It is obvious to me, that you care about the IJOEH, if you didn't you would have not made a comment like this here today. So you must be reading it and you must care what it says.
Avatar of: J. Perez

J. Perez

Posts: 1

November 22, 2007

and takes it seriously enough to spend their time making lengthy retorts and claims that no one reads it.\n\nConsider the following:\n\nThe actual academic credentials of the IJOEH authors are not disputed. That would have been impossible. Instead, their character was assaulted - for insisting on more disclosure? What is wrong with this picture? \n\nAlthough inaccuracies were claimed, not a single specific inaccuracy was corrected in print. If any such inaccuracy was so glaring, shouldn't it be easily corrected? A little more daylight, a little less innuendo, please...\n\nThe IJOEH article was heavily documented. The retort from ACOEM failed support even a single point it tried to make via publicly-available records. Surely, anything so egregious as to prompt such a concentrated response was deserving of more than mere fury-fueled vitriol? As an organization which claims to promote and publish "high-quality" and peer-reviewed scientific literature, was this response to be taken as an example of ACOEM's lofty standards? \n\nWill ACOEM ever tell us explicitly just how it has served the public health as opposed to industrial desires? Were the hundred of thousands paid out for public relations of no assistance after all? \n\nAs a non-profit, the ACOEM should have no trouble opening its books and naming its donors and paid members. After all - the members are all required to display those credentials to any stranger who walks in off the street individually, and their financial contributions to the government for tax purposes. All publicly-traded corporate sponsors are required to open their books to their stockholders. Government agencies must answer to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. If there is nothing to hide, why should any legal action be required at all? \n\nIf ACOEM is as it represents itself to be - i.e. filled with pride owing to its public service accomplishments, then one would think the organization could happily rest on its own laurels, happily sharing its own internal sense of good repute with the world and free of any need for such public inquiry, let alone such rage. \n\nDoes the ACOEM leadership truly speak for its membership as it has pledged to do? Does its statements actually carry the weight of consensus for the several thousand practicing clinicians it claims to represent? As nearly as can be determined, the general membership is hardly aware of leadership's dealings, while a fair subset just might be downright dismayed if they did. Hopefully, the article in IJOEH will prompt the general membership to ask its own questions.
Avatar of: Deborah Davitt

Deborah Davitt

Posts: 2

November 22, 2007

calling into question your motives.\n\n Dr. Hamilton, your ad hominem attack points either to your lack of valid opposition to the article, its content, its authors, or the comments, a lack of an ethical compass, or all of the above. It also reflects on your intellect, or lack thereof. If you really are a doctor, you would realize the need to make factual statements that can be corroborated or disproved. \n\nHopefully, you are not a clinician and exposing your patients to your disregard, contempt, lack of ethics, lack of concern for their well-being, and your unreasonable refusal to consider all avenues of pathology, diagnoses, and treatment.\n\n\nAll the comments are predictable and stupid\nby Dr. Hamilton\n\n[Comment posted 2007-11-21 23:28:10]\n\nFrom time to time the malcontents at the IJOEH publish basically the same silly accusations. Then they vanish for a few more years until their need for attention resurfaces. No one reads the IJOEH. No one cares about it. No one takes it seriously.

November 22, 2007

While we appreciate spirited discourse, please refrain from ad hominem attacks or other offensive postings. We reserve the right to delete comments that we feel are inappropriate, and some of the recent comments are getting closer and closer to our threshold for deletion.\n\nThanks for all of your comments.
Avatar of: Renee Haynes

Renee Haynes

Posts: 1

November 22, 2007

The ACOEM obviously takes the IJOEH seriously, or they would not invest so much time and energy in their retort, or threaten suit.\n\nI take it as a sign of a nerve hit when the retalliation is so spirited. I'm also leery of anyone who so strenuously resists scrutiny. "The [association] doth protest too much, methinks."
Avatar of: SNK

SNK

Posts: 1

November 25, 2007

To quote from the title of the post "All the comments are predictable and stupid\nby Dr. Hamilton"\n\nI agree. Yes, the comments by Dr. Hamilton are predicable and stupid. They are also disheartening for thousands of Americans who are being harmed by the industry driven conflicts of interest in the American medical system. When one who professes to hold a medical degree would be so aggressive, defensive and dismissive of a problem within national health care system, it is clearly indicative of the root of the problem. Whatever happened to the concept of "Physician, first do no harm?". Has US society degraded to the concept of mano e mano? Each man for himself?\nI am sickened by the vision Dr. Hamilton's comments reflect.\n\nSNK\n\n
Avatar of: NLS

NLS

Posts: 1

November 26, 2007

How interesting that Dr. Hamilton would threaten a lawsuit that certainly would be "frivolous". This is the professsion that has fought for tort reform for years claiming that patients were filing "frivolous" lawsuits for heavens sake. Get a gripe Dr. Hamilton, it sounds to me like the truth hurts. Hopefully a wise judge would grant summary judgement and get rid of this "frivolous" lawsuit.

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