Osteopathic physicians are trained to utilize osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in the care of their patients. OMT offers an effective and nonpharmacologic option to treat a wide range of conditions, from common musculoskeletal disorders, such as low back and neck pain, to improving outcomes for elderly hospitalized patients admitted for pneumonia. OMT is a valuable tool for the health and well-being of patients who receive it. In the midst of an opioid crisis, there is a need for additional nonpharmacological treatment methods such as OMT to assist patients suffering from acute and chronic pain.
It is disheartening when a valuable treatment option for patient care is not used in an appropriate manner. It is reprehensible that a predator hid behind the guise of OMT to prey on young girls and women. Mark Baker, DO, the president of the American Osteopathic Association expressed the same emotion that many of us share after hearing the stories of abuse to over 150 female patients. These brave girls and women have publicly described in detail what should never happen to a patient under the trusted care of any health care provider.
The abuse perpetrated by Larry Nassar violates every acceptable practice of osteopathic physicians everywhere. Such actions were counter to the Osteopathic Oath every osteopathic physician is committed to: “I will be mindful always of my great responsibility to preserve the health and the life of my patients, to retain their confidence and respect both as a physician and a friend who will guard their secrets with scrupulous honor and fidelity, to perform faithfully my professional duties, to employ only those recognized methods of treatment consistent with good judgment and with my skill and ability, keeping in mind always nature's laws and the body's inherent capacity for recovery.”
The egregious actions of one individual should not deter efforts to encourage the appropriate application of osteopathic concepts in the treatment of patients. Caring for patients is the greatest of privileges. We join Dr. Baker in honoring these victims by doing all we can to ensure OMT is provided to patients in need in the most appropriate and professional way possible, by continuing to educate the public on our proud profession and all it has to offer, and by ensuring that collectively and individually we are vigilant in safeguarding our patients.
Michael P. Rowane, DO, MS, FAAFP, FAAO
2017-18 AAO President
American Academy of Osteopathy
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