And they are sloppy.
I was reading a newsgroup and came across a link to a video of a news story aired on Fox News dealing with the H1N1 virus and, at that time, the soon to be released vaccine. They included the usual and customary "infectious disease expert".
After I viewed the video, and, as usual, I decided to check out the good doctor, Kent Holtorf. He demonstrated a truly impressive skill set that I have rarely seen.
Since he is an MD, I like to check medical credentials. He is licensed to practice medicine by the Medical Board of California:
License: G 74797
License Type: Physician and Surgeon
Licensee may be a U.S. or Canadian medical school graduate whose pathway to licensure was based on the NBME examination.
Name: KENT ALAN HOLTORF, M.D.
(I redacted his address.)
Address of Record County: LOS ANGELES
License Status: License Renewed & Current
Licensee meets requirements for the practice of medicine in California.
Public Record Action(s): No Public Record Actions available
Original Issue Date: July 28, 1992
Expiration Date: June 30, 2010
School Name: ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
Year Graduated: 1991
Activities In Medicine: PATIENT CARE - 20 TO 29 HOURS
RESEARCH - 20 TO 29 HOURS
TEACHING - 10 TO 19 HOURS
ADMINISTRATION - 20 TO 29 HOURS
Primary Practice Location Zip Code: 90505
Board Certification(s): No board certifications identified
(I expect that any physician who has made the effort to secure board certification would list that with the licensing agency.)
Primary Practice Area(s): FAMILY PRACTICE
Secondary Practice Area(s): ENDOCRINOLOGY
Post Graduate Training Years: 3 YEARS
3 years is an adequate period of post graduate training for someone to qualify for board certification. It seems to be getting stranger by the moment
(I do not answer these questions, either, and this really is not germane:)
Ethnic Background: Declined to Disclose
Foreign Language(s): Declined to Disclose
Gender: Declined to Disclose
I was shocked to find that Dr. Holtorf is not listed by the ABMS as being board certified. Didn't Fox News say he was in infectious disease EXPERT?
Since he listed his main practice area as Family Practice, one the harder disciplines, and endocrinology as his secondary, I thought I would check to see whether he has any published research. His licensing information states that he spends 20 TO 29 HOURS a week engaged in research, and this should generate a peer reviewed study or three .
So, I went to PubMed and, searching on "Holtorf K", which would give me the widest search parameters I found:
The bioidentical hormone debate: are bioidentical hormones (estradiol, estriol, and progesterone) safer or more efficacious than commonly used synthetic versions in hormone replacement therapy?
Postgrad Med. 2009 Jan;121(1):73-85. Review.
Hmmm....this is not peer reviewed, and it is a review of other research.
and then this one...
Hormones in wellness and disease prevention: common practices, current state of the evidence, and questions for the future.
Schwartz ET, Holtorf K.
Prim Care. 2008 Dec;35(4):669-705.
PMID: 18928825 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
What I did find was interesting, thought. Using the search tool on the website, I did a search on vaccine and was referred to a page where his appearances on rush Limboob, Sean Insanity (Hannity), Glen Beck, et al, are referenced and linked. They all refer to him as an expert on infectious diseases. Thus, my search for proof that he is a true expert on infectious disease led to nothing. I was disappointed in that.
However, not all was lost. The simple fact is, the good doctor has managed to demonstrate just how easy it is to bamboozle the media. Either they never bothered to check his credentials, or, because he was spouting their party line, it did not matter.
Furthermore, I did some additional Googling of his name and found that the NY Daily News, the newspaper of my youth, the one I delivered, the one which used to have the best sports section in the world, had several articles where he is referred to as a board certified endocrinologist in one article, and a specialist in women's health in another. (There is no board certification in women's health, unless they meant OB-GYN, and he is not board certified in that, either). In another article, concerning the Haitian tragedy that is still unfolding as I write, he comments on how high humidity could increase survival times while buried in the rubble.
Thus, the good doctor has demonstrated just how lousy an idea it is to rely on the media for medical advice and information. Utterly sloppy of these august organs of the 4th Estate.
Please note that I was not surprised with my findings. I expected nothing more that this from Fox News, and those who bought the line. Their "research" seems to consist of determining whether a good story can hit the media, and whether it may be controversial. Having homeopathic like expertise is another criteria.
As for the Daily News, they have NO excuses. Their own internal archives demonstrate that there is a question regarding the doctor's "expertise". They should be ashamed of themselves.