America’s Dr. Oz Controversy and Evidence Based Medicine: I am OK with Dr. Oz

Dr. Oz is on the hot seat again. 10 doctors from different leading institutions across the country recently wrote a letter to Columbia University, where Dr. Oz holds an academic appointment. They state their disdain for Dr. Oz and his credibility. They request he be removed from his faculty position.

Here’s Why I’m Okay with Dr. Oz, Despite Disagreeing on Many Subjects
On a daily basis a patient will ask about something they heard Dr. Oz say or about something they read on the internet. Many doctors cringe when a patient tells them they read something medical on the internet, and most providers do not really like being asked about what is said on the Dr. Oz Show. Not me. I love when that happens. Why? Because, I get to clarify the crap that is out there.

I am given the opportunity to teach that patient the difference between an ‘Internet-Certified Expert’ versus a physician who devotes his or her life to the studies of specific subjects.

Dr. Oz and I disagree on many things. He has said and supported things I think are ridiculous. However, he sheds light, conversation, and thought on important subjects that do not otherwise get addressed in your typical doctor-patient encounters. Dr. Oz is over hyped and over marketed. However, he allows for discussion that helps move away from dogma in medicine and health. I do feel he has tainted his reputation for the sake of media and marketing. He gets to deal with the consequences of that.

The Letter Is a Publicity Stunt
The 10 doctor-letter was a bit pretentious. Why? They assume to represent me. Instead of bringing their concerns directly to Columbia University, they did it publicly. In my opinion this is simply unprofessional. If I have a problem with the integrity, the care, or the ethics of a colleague, I challenge them directly first or if necessary I go directly to the medical board or the associated institution. Dr. Oz gets ridiculous sometimes. What he chooses to discuss is his choice, but if you listen you will see that he simply brings subjects to light and allows conversation and debate. I like that a lot because debate is key to growth.

What is Evidence Based Medicine?
Physicians tend to hang their hat up on what is known as Evidence Based Medicine (EBM). EBM is the practice of medicine based on appropriate research. Unfortunately, physicians and our academic institutions get so wrapped up in making studies fit the delivery of care that we lose sight of our experiences and expertise to make decisions. We begin to lose focus on the individual patient. Clinical studies can be inherently biased. The majority of the studies we act on are funded by industry, including the ones some of the 10 physicians throwing stones at Dr. Oz are tied to. It is well known that many studies over-report improved outcomes.

Because studies are mostly funded by industry, there is an inherent bias to support that industry. There is also a bias against protocols, systems, products, and anything that has no financial benefit. Don’t get me wrong. EBM is critical in medical education and the initial steps of raising a fledgling physician. However, rounding out and honing that education and the art of providing care to an individual requires clinical intuition, focus on patient goals and desires, and experienced-based thought. There are many different kinds of evidence. I have seen this many times in my experience of strictly following EBM in treating patients only to find it fail me over and over. Only when I finally step out of the box and go by observational intuition I find success. Which brings me back to Dr. Oz. He knows EBM. He knows the system. He is well aware of his choice to place his reputation at risk to present dubious information and he does so with disclosure.

The Art of Medicine
I am OK with Dr. Oz simply because he allows for discussion of popular subjects and concerns patients bring to me. I am offered the opportunity to take those subjects and review the EBM from the physician’s perspective. I apply my observations and experience, I look at other clinicians’ observations and experiences and I mold it all into my opinion. That, I believe, is the Art of Medicine.

See Dr. Oz’s response to the Columbia doctors’ criticism here.

 To Your Health,
Benjamin Gonzalez, MD

FULL DISCLOSURE: I firmly believe in any and all products, procedures, and systems I recommend. I am aware not all recommendations work at all times. I am dedicated to cause no harm. I am aware that despite decisions based on extensive experience, good evidence-based medicine, and patient’s desires, things I recommend may not work and may have poor outcomes. I have no ties to Dr. Oz. I have ties to industry. Any industry I have ties to has never let my reputation down. I have less ties with insurance and pharmaceutical companies than most physicians. Pharmaceuticals have let me down. I am, without a doubt, tied to my patients and their outcomes.”

If you or someone you know has questions about health or something you read online, get wellness care, like wellness care in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, today. 

Thanks to Atlantis Medical Wellness Center for their insight into the Dr. Oz controversy.