On 17 January 2019, a report titled ‘End of Modern Medicine ’ was published in the online edition of The Statesman. Authored by Dr Biswaroop Roy Chowdhury, the report featuring in the opinion section of the website sought to highlight “evidence-based medical science”, saying medical science had witnessed several changes in the last 10 years but doctors were still using “totally obsolete” knowledge to treat patients.

In response to the write-up, Sudipta Misra (MBBS, MD, DM, AGAF), Director, Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, at Trident Medical System in South Carolina, USA, has said the article shows “misrepresentation, distortion and cherry picking of ‘scientific evidence’ by the author”.

“As a medical professional I feel compelled to respond to the opinion piece, “End of Modern Medicine” (January 17, 2019), in the interest of patient safety. I object to misrepresentation, distortion and cherry picking of ‘scientific evidence’ by the author for self-aggrandization and interest,” Dr Misra said in an email to The Statesman.

In his article, Dr Roy Chowdhury had said, quoting a report, a heart attack patient’s chances of death increased three times when he or she was given oxygen in hospital.

Rebutting this claim, Dr Misra said: “Author gives the impression that it’s harmful for patients with heart attack. Without going through the many layers and types of heart attack, a 2017 study , having 5 times the number of patients than the quoted Cochran review of 2010, concludes that there is no ADDITIONAL benefit in giving oxygen to patients with heart attack who do not have hypoxemia (low oxygen in blood). Giving oxygen DO NOT CAUSE ANY HARM. (Hoffman et al. NEJM;2017, 377:1240-7).”

The implication of the article, he said, could be family members of a heart attack victim violently reacting to a doctor putting a oxygen mask on the patient, “without understanding the nuances because a newspaper article said it can kill him”.

“What is most troubling is his distortion of the diabetes studies. His representation of the data gives the impression that taking medicines for lowering blood sugar in diabetes is harmful and now doctors are recommending against it. Nothing can be furthest from truth. The basic idea is blood sugar control. The recent change is in accepting a less aggressive control, in lay man’s term letting the blood sugar stay higher and bringing it down slowly without causing low blood sugar. Using LESS medications, not NO medicine. Diet has always been a bed rock of diabetes management which is very efficiently managed by trained and licensed dieticians without the cost of expensive cult symposium,” Dr Misra said in his rejoinder.

He is of the opinion that such comments would give “persons with high blood sugar (many of them already in denial) license to ignore the disease, refuse professional help and end up having complications like blindness, kidney failure, neuropathy etc”. “It is sobering to note that a substantial number of subjects of all the studies quoted by the author already had complications like retinopathy when enrolled,” Dr Misra added.

Referring to the “heart attack in hospital” quote, he said it assumed that “a person has the choice to decide when and where he/she will have the heart attack”, adding: “The data is layered and has to be discussed in a granularity that this platform does not allow.”

“… modern medicine is alive and kicking. It thrives on critical thinking, honesty and integrity,” Dr Misra concluded.