Doctor suspended for bicarb soda cancer treatment

DANIEL HURST
Last updated 11:30 10/05/2011

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A Queensland doctor who agreed to a naturopath's request to treat her breast cancer with bicarbonate of soda has been suspended.

Kathryn Mary O'Sullivan will also be required to undergo counselling for violating Medical Board guidelines surrounding the use of unconventional medicine.

Dr O'Sullivan, a medical practitioner for 30 years, treated breast cancer patient and naturopath Jill Newlands using bicarb, the Queensland Consumer and Administrative Tribunal heard.

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Ms Newlands sought the alternative treatment after personally investigating her options.

"The treatment involved infusions of bicarbonate of soda," Judge Fleur Kingham said in a written decision published last week.

"Dr O'Sullivan concedes there is no reasonable scientific evidence to support the treatment, nor a reasonable scientific expectation that it would have resulted in a favourable outcome for Ms Newlands.

"She also concedes that she did not appropriately investigate Ms Newland's condition; nor did she advise her of her conventional treatment options and their associated risks."

Dr O'Sullivan told the tribunal Ms Newlands had a "forceful personality" and did not seek advice, merely assistance.

"It was Dr O'Sullivan's responsibility to ensure that her patient was properly advised, regardless of how informed and resolute she appeared to be," Judge Kingham said.

Judge Kingham said it was more concerning that after the initial experience with Ms Newlands, Dr O'Sullivan became drawn in to "improperly enabling" the naturopath's treatment of others.

Dr O'Sullivan gave Ms Newlands permission in 2008 to use her account number to order medical supplies from a health care supplier, allowing her access to restricted and controlled drugs.

Dr O'Sullivan used unconventional treatments on two of Ms Newland's clients, who were seriously ill with cancer.

"In company with Ms Newlands, she intravenously administered Miracle Mineral Solution, a mixture of sodium chlorite and citric acid," Judge Kingham said.

The tribunal accepted Dr O'Sullivan's motivation was a desire to help not harm and she had an unblemished record, but said her failure to understand her duty of care was concerning.

Dr O'Sullivan's registration will be suspended for six months, but the punishment will be lifted after three months to recognise her co-operation with the tribunal.

She will also be subject to conditions requiring her to undertake ethical decision-making training and participate in a year of intensive mentoring.

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