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Medical Complications Frequently Reported Following Colon Cleansing

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers know that occasionally a certain medical procedure or healthcare tactic becomes a “fad” among community members. The collective public conscience and popular culture often results in the sudden rise in popularity of a new diet or a novel method of improving a medical condition. However, these fads can become dangerous (and borders on medical malpractice) when they are encouraged even though evidence mounts regarding their danger.

A new study published in the Journal of Family Practice suggests that that might be the case for patients getting colon cleansings. Colon cleansing is an ancient practice that received popularity nearly a hundred years ago on the idea that intestinal waste can poison the body. However, as early as 1919, a paper in the American Medical Association rejected the benefits of the process and condemned the procedure. However, a generation or two later, the practice is again gaining popularity-even though experts are reporting that it may not only be ineffective but actually harmful to those who get it.

There are a variety of colon cleansing products from laxatives and powder to teas and capsules. Home kits are available but more often than not people visit a “hydrotherapist” who performs so-called “colon irrigations.” Many practitioners in this area belong to national associations like the National Board for Colon Hydrotherapy and the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy.

Unfortunately, just as it was reported a hundred years ago, experts have found no evidence that colon cleansing actually provided any of the benefits that its proponents claimed. Instead, there is much more scientific literature on the adverse effects that some patients have experienced following the procedure. The complications have been both mild and severe. Some patients have experienced cramping, abdominal pain, perianal irritation, and soreness. Others have had more damaging problems like electrolyte imbalance and renal failure. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued many letters to manufacturers of colon cleansing devices and products regarding unapproved uses of the systems.

This latest study which revealed the dangers of colon cleansing issued a call to all medical physicians to warn their patients about the dangers of this procedure. With colon cleansing rising in popularity, many medical patients are sharing their use of the procedure with their doctor. Therefore, it is important for physicians to tell their patients about the potential consequences of this cleaning and explain the lack of evidence connecting the procedure to any actual benefits.

The Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti believe that patients who visit all types of therapists deserve a reasonable level of care when they are being treated. This includes proper treatment and honest assessment by individuals like “hydrotherapists” who seek to perform procedures like colon cleansings. The civil justice system protects all those harmed because of the negligence of others. When doctors in our area fail to perform reasonably they are likely liable for committing Illinois medical malpractice. Similarly these therapists can be liable for their negligence if they fail to act reasonably and cause harm to those who sought their services.

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