Reader ‘s opinion Patient safety is more important than the controversy over terms

Relying on international terms is problematic, as the various therapies used for well-being and symptom relief are very culturally dependent.

Pauliina Aarva and Anneli Milén criticized in their writing (HS Opinion 3.8.) the use of the term faith therapy. According to them, “complementary and alternative therapies” would be a neutral term. Complementary care seems to be somehow deficient in medical care and would require supplementation. Alternative treatment, on the other hand, raises the impression that medical treatment would have some equally effective and safe treatment.

Relying on international terms is problematic. The various therapies used for well-being, symptom relief and even relaxation are very culturally dependent; is Indian Ayurveda, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Russian Moksha and Kalevala Membership Correction. The range of different therapies is huge. Energy treatments, unicorn therapy and life enhancement are very strange. Instead, massages, spas, and supplements are quite familiar and commonly used – even if they are not medicine.

Doctors use the term faith therapy for those therapies that have not been shown to be effective by medical research. The placebo effect, which is well known in medicine, is also based on the patient’s trust and belief that the treatment is working. There is nothing derogatory about it.

In medicine, the aim is to use such studies and treatments, the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of which have been proven by medical research. New treatments are included and old ones are abandoned as research evidence accumulates.

The Medical Association wants legislation to increase patient safety in line with the Swedish model. The Swedish Patient Safety Act (Patientsäkerhetslagen 2010: 659) restricts the right of non-health and medical professionals to treat certain infectious diseases, cancer, malignancies, diabetes, epilepsy, pregnancy or childbirth and to examine and treat a child under 8 years of age. The goal of the medical profession is to improve patient safety.

Kati Myllymäki

Licentiate of Medicine, Executive Director

Finnish Medical Association

Reader opinions are speeches written by HS readers, selected and delivered by HS editorial. You can leave a comment or read the principles of the writing at www.hs.fi/kirjtamielipidekirjoitus/.

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