DÄ internationalArchive11/2010Ineffective Treatments Are Harmful

Correspondence

Ineffective Treatments Are Harmful

Dtsch Arztebl Int 2010; 107(11): 196. DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2010.0196b

Köbberling, J

LNSLNS With regard to the suggested therapeutic measures—primarily infusions of various substances—all existing studies that claim to meet at least minimum standards of methodological quality have had a negative result. In spite of this clear situation, even the relevant specialty groups kept recommending their use. The fact that Professor Suckfüll clearly articulates the lacking evidence base is therefore to be welcomed.

Ineffective treatments are not “neutral”; they are harmful. All listed therapeutic options are associated with risks. Speaking for myself, I acted as an expert in the case of a death due to sepsis caused by an infected catheter that had been used for infusion treatment of sudden hearing loss.

It is therefore with considerable dismay that I noted the sentence: “For this reason, the German Association of Otorhinolaryngologists (Deutscher Berufsverband der Hals-Nasen-Ohren-Fachärzte) ... currently directs that the treatment of sudden, idiopathic sensorineural hearing loss is to be billed as an individual, rather than insurance-covered, service” in the article.

This is akin to openly admitting that treatments that do not meet the criteria of efficacy and harmlessness continue to be proposed or at least offered. This is likely to do lasting damage to the public’s trust in doctors. Suckfüll himself asks the question of whether situation will remain unchanged. Regrettably, the trend towards detrimental medicine on the basis of individual health services seems to have made further progress, although this certainly does not focus primarily on patients’ wellbeing. Under no circumstances must individual health services be allowed to become a melting pot for treatment methods that cannot be billed to the health insurers because they do not conform with the required quality standards.

Doctors are advised to reflect on the situation self critically and correct this trend, before external regulations are imposed that put a stop to such practices.
DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2010.0196b

Prof. Dr. med. Johannes Köbberling
Vorsitzender des Wissenschaftlichen Beirates des IQWIG
Am Freudenberg 85
42119 Wuppertal, Germany
Johannes@koebberling.de
1.
Suckfüll M: Perspectives on the pathophysiology and treatment of sudden idiopathic sensorineural hearing loss [Hörsturz – Erwägung zur Pathophysiologie und Therapie]. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106 (41): 669–76. VOLLTEXT
1. Suckfüll M: Perspectives on the pathophysiology and treatment of sudden idiopathic sensorineural hearing loss [Hörsturz – Erwägung zur Pathophysiologie und Therapie]. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106 (41): 669–76. VOLLTEXT