RAIDED AND SHUT DOWN
From The Cancer Chronicles #29
© Sept. 1995 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
On July 20 , agents of the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Board raided the office of innovative oncologist, Glenn A. Warner, M.D., who combines conventional with alternative methods in his practice.
They took away his medical license and his hospital admitting privileges, and left him unable to treat the hundreds of cancer patients who depend on him for continued treatment--and life. Neither Warner nor his lawyer was informed that a raid of this sort was pending. On 8/13, however, a King County Superior Court judge temporarily restored his medical privileges (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/14/95).But the threat to his type of less-toxic oncology remains strong.
Warner, who is 75, is a graduate of George Washington Medical University in Washington, DC and a board-certified radiologist of the American College of Radiology. He was a research fellow at Swedish Hospital Tumor Institute in Seattle, who began private practice in 1979.He was accused of mishandling common medical procedures and harming six patients. In one case, the board accused him of confusing a swollen, cancerous liver with an enlarged spleen.
Warner counters that he did nothing wrong and that doctors everywhere "face tough judgment calls." The enlarged spleen, he says, did suggest possible tumors elsewhere "but we didn't know where it was or how much it was" until after a CAT scan.
Even the Seattle Post-Intelligencer admits that "many of his patients--numbering more than 1,000, he says--feel that state officials are on a 'witch hunt' for doctors who stray outside mainstream medicine."
The situation in Seattle is particularly tense because of the growing stature of the naturopathic Bastyr University and the opening of the first government-funded alternative clinic in King County.
"Warner is one of the few oncologists who even has hundreds of surviving patients," remarked Pat McGrady, Jr., a long-time supporter of the Washington physician.
The Northwest Oncology Foundation has called the prosecution of Dr. Warner "the longest-running outrage in the history of Washington State's Medical Disciplinary Board." Nearly a decade of harassment culminated in 13 days of hearings in January and February 1994 before an administrative law judge, James Stanford.
Throughout it all, Dr. Warner retained his serene composure and a 15-hour a day work schedule. He has continued to give psychological counselling and emotional support to his many cancer patients. Dr. Warner also continued to see patients whom he was unable to accommodate during the week on Saturdays, and chaired weekly Cancer Support Group meetings at the NOF.
Dr. Warner's troubles really began in the 1960s when, as a research fellow, he began to ask questions about the usefulness of radiation and chemotherapy compared to more holistic approaches.
His treatment program evolved from these early doubts: it lays a heavy emphasis on psychological factors, encouraging a "take charge" attitude on the part of patients, with stress reduction, a healthful diet, positive mental attitude, and exercises to strengthen the immune system. He also bolsters the immune system with certain immunotherapeutic drugs. Warner is well-known for his optimism, which many feel has aided their survival.
At one time, Warner worked with the Swedish-born immunologists Ingegerd and Karl E. Hellstrom, who had come to the University of Washington (UW), from Sweden to work on basic immunology. He supplied the Hellstroms with blood samples from his own cancer patients. "Many of our patients were the prototypes in which was demonstrated the actual lymphocyte activity against tumor cells," Warner recalled, proudly.
"I became aware," he added, "that surgery, x-ray therapy, and chemotherapy are all strongly immunosuppressive, destroying the body¹s response to disease." Like other mavericks, Warner acted on his beliefs. In 1979, he founded the Northwest Oncology Clinic in Seattle, a town known for its interest in alternative medicine. He has treated several thousand patients and reached out to collaborate with his still-orthodox colleagues.
But the hostility of a handful of University of Washington faculty members led to a decade-long legal action. It all began with a complaint in 1985, which was quickly dismissed. But new charges were filed in May 1989. Between 1989 and 1992, the board repeatedly scheduled hearings, only to postpone or reschedule them at the last minute. At one point, a compromise settlement was worked out with a subcommittee, but was then rejected by the full disciplinary board. In February 1994, 13 "terminally ill" patients testified that Dr. Warner was responsible for keeping them alive. The July 1995 raid appears to be the result of oncologists' resentment of a popular and successful doctor in their midst.
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