Thursday, March 31, 2005

More Doctors

One more post about physicians involved in the Schiavo case, since we've covered Hammesfahr pretty thouroughly. There are two more doctors who go against prevailing scientific and medical thought:

1) Dr Fred Webber
Webber played a part in an earlier part of the legal saga in this case. In June 2001, Dr. Fred Webber wrote a very schematic affidavit. The courts acted, apparently based largely on this affadavit. Webber's affidavit was removed from the Schindler's site but is available here.

A few points about Dr. Webber:
* His degree is as a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy). While not a slam, it's worth noting that he is not a Doctor of Medicine (MD).
* He's not a neurologist. In his remarkably skeletal affidavit, he makes no claim to be a neurologist.
* He states in his affidavit that he had not examined Ms. Schiavo.
* At the time he wrote his affidavit, Webber was working for the less-than-stellar Dr. Hammesfahr.
* After writing this affadavit and getting the judicial wheels to move, amazingly he did not appear in the trial subsequently. Very odd indeed, as the Guardian ad Litem noted:
By May of 2002, the physicians were selected by both sides but no agreeement could be reached about a fifth, so the court selected one. Curiously and surprisingly, Dr. Webber, who had served as the basis for this entire process at the 2nd DCA did not participate in the exams or the procedure.

* Dr. Webber says that he practiced in "the Minneapolis area" from about 1975 until sometime in the year 2000. Apparently the only physician licensed in Minnesota with the name Fred Webber is Fred Lawrence Webber. If this is indeed our affiant, then the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice lists that he has an (unspecified) disciplinary action. (To confirm, go here, and search for either
Licensee Name: Fred Lawrence Webber
License Number: 22801 )

* As a further note, the Guardian ad Litem identifies him as an osteopathic physician, which matches with the Minnesota physician (D.O.) who has the disciplinary action noted above.

2) Dr. William S. Maxfield.

* Dr Maxfield is not a neurologist, either. He's usually cited in press reports as a radiologist and/or a hyperbaric physician. Here's his CV.
* His affadavit (as above, it's removed from the Schindler's site but is available here) doesn't report any evaluation based on radiology. It begins: "As provided in the court order, I visited Terry Schiavo at your [ the Schindler's] request to make an independent assessment of her physical status without actually examining the patient. " So he admits he didn't examine Ms. Schiavo.
* He then reports a series of observations and extrapolations that do not rely upon his expertise as a radiologist or hyperbaric doctor.
* It does, however, appear that Dr. Maxfield is hoping to push hyperbaric therapy, ("I would then suggest a trial of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for one or two sessions with the SPECT brain scan then being repeated. ") which, as the Judge noted in his opinion, has no tested application to Ms. Schiavo's condition.

Once again, one has to appreciate Judge Greer's ability to assess untested therapies versus tested ones.

But the thin empirical gruel from these fellows feeds many news cycles. I would bet, however, that those commentators who find these guys compelling in the case of Ms. Schaivo would somehow find other practitioners to treat their family members if they were in medical crisis.

Bernadine Healey: will you hire Drs Hammesfahr, Webber, or Maxfield to treat you or your relatives when they have a serious neurological disorder?

I sure wouldn't, but then I haven't been implying that their work had any empirical validity. Over to you, Dr. Healey.

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