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Latest from ABC News (Australia)

Parents guilty of eczema baby manslaughter

There have been emotional scenes at a Sydney court where a homeopath and his wife were found guilty of the manslaughter of their baby daughter.

Thomas Sam and his wife Manju Sam were convicted over the death of their nine-month-old Gloria.

Thomas Sams
Thomas and Manju Sam leave the NSW Supreme Court (AAP: Paul Miller, file photo)

The baby girl had severe eczema and died of septicemia in 2002.

After a four-week trial the Supreme Court jury took less than two days to reach its decision.

The Crown argued the couple did not seek conventional medical treatment for their child, instead treating her with homeopathic drops.

The defence argued the couple were not warned about how sick the child was by medical staff who examined her.

Thomas and Manju Sam sat in the dock with their arms around each other, crying as the verdict was read out.

Thomas Sam’s brother, who was in the public gallery, collapsed sobbing and was taken outside.

Both were granted bail with strict conditions ahead of their sentencing hearing.

How many times does one have to say it. Sugar pills can kill.

They kill when give given to prevent malaria

They kill when given to treat AIDS

Young scientists have condemned it. Their excellent efforts were reported in The Guardian and in the Times). Anyone with half a brain condemns it.

Most homeopaths I’ve met are genuine people who really believe their own fairy tales. Is being genuinely deluded absolve you from blame? Not in Australia, it seems.

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12 Responses to Bogus therapy for real diseases: more homeopathic killing

  • […] This post was Twitted by precordialthump – Real-url.org […]

  • Dr Aust says:

    The other guise where “does being genuinely deluded absolve you from blame?” turns up in a medical context is, of course, religion. See e.g. here.

    The view of the courts has usually been that genuine delusion, religious or otherwise, does not excuse neglect of your parental duty of care. Or “your duty as a parent not to be a total *!*ing idiot”, if you prefer.

  • Claire says:

    This is just terribly sad and I’m sure the Supreme Court Jury got no satisfaction at all from having to convict parents of the manslaughter of their child. Conditions like eczema are often thought of as mild and self-limiting (as in many cases it is) but if not properly diagnosed and cared for can be very nasty indeed. This BBC report tells of a child who also developed septicaemia after homeopathic eczema treatment but fortunately he survived and got the medical expert help he needed.

  • Dr Aust says:

    Yes, I had a student who nearly got blood poisoning from badly infected eczema. Luckily the GP spotted it, got it sorted and referred the student on, including to a specialist eczema clinic that sorted out their eczema self-management.

    I shudder to think what would have happened if they had seen a homeopath.

  • cdavis999 says:

    Many homoeopaths are genuine people, certainly; but I’ve met several who were more than a little drunk on their perceived power as healers, and the status this conferred on them in their local circle.

    A charlatan might tend to be a little circumspect when faced with something serious enough to require more than snake-oil and sympathy. The True Believer may take it as a challenge to their powers. The Sam family seemed to have been an example.

  • Dr Aust says:

    Many homoeopaths are genuine people, certainly; but I’ve met several who were more than a little drunk on their perceived power as healers, and the status this conferred on them in their local circle.

    .

    Quite – see Gimpy’s blog for examples.

    Of course, this is just the kind of “God Complex” that Alt.Reality people regularly accuse conventional doctors of having. Another little irony.

  • Muscleman says:

    In some US states they have statutes that say if you have a genuine religious reason you cannot be so prosecuted. Some fundie religious communities in the NW particularly are well known for killing their kids this way. They are left to it sadly.

  • I’d be tempted to suggest that homeopathy, chiropractic etc should declare themselves to be religions. After all, they have a lot in common: irrational believes, delusions of power, and fearsome internecine strife between different sects.

    DD Palmer, the founder of chiropractic, said in a letter written in 1911

    “I occupy in chiropractic a similar position as did Mrs. Eddy in Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy claimed to receive her ideas from the other world and so do I. She founded theron a religion, so may I.”

    The only problem would be, as you point out, that if you claim to be religious nobody can criticise in case it causes offence. For some bizarre reason, nobody seems to worry about the offence caused to reasonable people by homeopathy and chiropractic.

  • […] Australia! Homeopaths guilty of manslaughter. DC Science reports that the Australian homeopaths are guilty of manslaughter in the death of their […]

  • […] It must be said that Drs Avery and Lewith have had proper medical training. Their views on alternative medicine seem bizarre to me, but at least they should do no great harm. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the majority of homeopaths who have no medical training and who continue to andanger the public by recommending sugar pills for anything from malaria to Dengue fever. People like that have no place in the NHS. Indeed some are in jail. […]

  • […] The Society of Homeopaths is just a joke. When homeopaths were caught out recommending sugar pills for prevention of malaria, they did nothing (arguably such homicidal advice deserves a jail sentence), […]

  • […] is plain wicked. If the patient stops more effective treatment, it’s homicide. Homeopaths have been jailed for that. Sometimes it’s a result of wishful thinking. Sometimes it’s to make money. […]

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