Thursday, September 14, 2006

Medical Fraud and Quackery (Satire)

A fable by Curtis E. Hinkle

Imagine a world in which people were only allowed to have blonde or brown hair. The inhabitants of this world are totally convinced that all people can be divided into only two categories – those with blonde hair and those with brown hair. This is a myth but one that is so entrenched in the minds of the inhabitants that when a child is born with orange hair, they simply insist that the child’s hair really is either blonde or brown and they need to have experts from the medical community to help them diagnose what condition has resulted in the child’s disorder of hair development or DHD, formerly simply known as orange hair.

More and more orange haired people were starting to live openly without hiding their orange hair and were proclaiming that they were actually pleased with their natural color hair and resented all the prolonged enforced treatments that they had been subjected to in order to make them appear to have blonde or brown hair. A certain group called the Orange Hair Society of the Universe had been instrumental in making people with orange hair feel they had some right to be who they were.

As the years went by, the people in OHSU started insisting that they really were blonde and brown haired people and that in fact very few people born with orange hair actually identified as orange-haired people. They later decided that it would be better to do away with the very term used in the name of their organization – Orange Hair – and replace it with the term DHD – Disorder of Hair Development, but keep the name of the organization the same.

Many people with orange hair were very disturbed by this new terminology which made their hair color an illness and a disorder to be treated in childhood, something they had been working to change. Those who objected to this new disorder concept also felt that this would make children with orange hair even more ashamed and likely to want to hide who they were in a society structured only to accommodate people with blonde or brown hair.

The OHSU started selling guidelines that medical quacks had come up with for dying the hair of all infants born with orange hair. In this consensus statement published by a Consortium for the management of infants born with DHD’s, a whole group of very different medical illnesses and disorders were grouped together under this new medical diagnosis called a Disorder of Hair Development. The OHSU published news releases with great fanfare stating that this was a big breakthrough for the treatment of children born with orange hair and that these new guidelines written by quacks would finally help us move away from the single-minded focus on hair color and start dealing with the real health problems of children with DHD’s.

What was so fraudulent about all this was that this new diagnosis – DHD – included diseases that had nothing at all in common. It included diseases that affected a sizeable part of the population but very rarely resulted in orange hair along with other conditions that always caused infants to be born with orange hair and other conditions which might cause an individual to develop orange hair later in life. The underlying causes for developing orange hair were so different that one was left to wonder how this new diagnostic scheme could actually facilitate any sort of recommendations concerning medical care for people with this new disorder other than treating the color of the hair because that was the only thing that all these different conditions had in common. Other than that, the health needs of the individual children with DHD’s would be so different from group to group, condition to condition, that a consensus would actually be impossible because they had no real medical illnesses in common.

Adults affected with orange hair started reading the guidelines and discovered that the whole consensus was simply fraudulent in its allegations that this was about treating the real health needs of infants with orange hair. After reading through the guidelines of the Consortium, many adults with orange hair realized that the guidelines were nothing but a handbook for removing any evidence of orange hair that would be visible in public and telling the parents and legal authorities which color of hair the infant really should have – blonde or brown. Each condition which might produce an infant with orange hair was accompanied by the appropriate blonde or brown hair category and that category would be imposed on the child without consent based solely on the condition the child was born with.

The OHSU has published in it latest press release that these guidelines published by the Consortium for the management of Disorders of Hair Development in infants are not about hair color but a great step forward in the health care of orange haired people.

No comments: