A natural health practitioner has been found guilty of multiple breaches of the Code for her care of a patient with cancer. The patient presented with a lesion on her head that became progressively worse over the 18 months during which she received treatment from the practitioner. While the practitioner accepted that the treatment was "way out of her league" she said that the woman did not want conventional treatment and that "the patient's wishes should always come first".
Among other things, the Deputy Commissioner found that the practitioner had failed to properly inform the patient that the lesion was worsening and had continued to treat even when matters were clearly beyond her. The Deputy Commissioner concluded that the practitioner should have discontinued treatment, despite the patient's wishes: "[e]ven if a provider has a strong belief in the efficacy of alternative treatments, if the treatments prove unsuccessful, there must come a point at which a provider must "cry halt"". Further, the fundamental principle of health care, first do no harm, "is no less applicable to alternative practitioners than to medical practitioners". The practitioner's lack of record keeping and the relationship of dependency that had developed between practitioner and the patient was also criticised.
The practitioner was referred to the Director of Proceedings and Human Rights Review Tribunal proceedings are pending. 10HDC00970