Many credible physicians have been dragged into court on charges of negligent homicide (some frivolous, others justifiably). Shelton’s vulnerability was his defiance of accepted medical opinions of the day and his promotion of innovative fasting remedies. In 1942, Shelton was charged with negligent homicide but the case was never tried and charges were completely dropped.
In 1978 one of Dr. Shelton’s patients died while under the care of Dr. Vivian V. Vetrano. He had a pre-existing heart condition and alledgedly died from a heart attack. The patient was drinking only two cups of water a day while under Dr. Vetrano’s care and showed signs of dehydration. She testified that she attempted to have the decedent break his fast but that the patient refused to. The following explanation was given by Dr. Vetrano : “This patient had been on cortisone for years and years, I told him he couldn’t come until he had been off cortisone for 6 months, and then a month later he called and said ‘I just cannot do it at home, I want to come now’. Unfortunately I said yes. But when he got there he didn’t want to break his fast when I told him to, he got into a crisis and he needed cortisone to get through the crisis. He didn’t bring his prescription, so I took him to the hospital. He was going into shock because you cannot take a crisis without a lot of adrenaline. There I told them he had been on cortisone for years and I said he needed cortisone, but they didn’t listen, they just waited around, and he died. And then they blamed it on me and Shelton’s Health School.” It took over two years for the court to reach a verdict. Record, vol. 2, at 419 states “Suffice it to say that the jury was presented with sufficient evidence to support the conclusion of negligence on the part of Dr. Vetrano.” Records also report that she waited until “the eleventh hour before contacting” the hospital. Dr. Vetrano was charged with negligence not due to the fasting method, but due to the charge that she failed to transport the patient to a medical clinic in a timely manner. Although Dr. Vetrano was the individual supervising this fast, it was Dr. Shelton’s facility where this took place and, of course, the lawsuit was placed against him also.
Neither Dr. Shelton nor his method of fasting was shown to be the cause of the heart attack. Dr. Shelton supervised THOUSANDS of fasts, many of which were total fasts (water only) lasting more than ninety days. Dr. Shelton’s success cases far outnumbered the causality in question — a record most medical practitioners cannot boast of.
Practitioners exist in our twenty first century that use many of the methods Dr. Shelton used and they are not being jailed and fined for practicing medicine without a license. Alternative medicine is more accepted today than it was in Dr. Shelton’s day. Many of the methods he pioneered are now being proven valid in the laboratory.
While fasting institutes still abound in the twenty first century, it is the medical healthcare providers that are routinely dragged into court for the adverse effects of medical malpractice.
1) The Institute of Medicine reports that there are:
2) A recent study published in The Journal of The American Medical Association (2000:284:94) by Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, showed that in the U.S. there are:
· 12,000 deaths/year from unnecessary surgery
· 7,000 deaths/year from medication errors in hospitals
· 20,000 deaths/year from other errors in hospitals
· 80,000 deaths/year from nosocomial infections in hospitals
· 106,000 deaths/year from adverse effects of medications
This totals up to 323,000 deaths annually from iatrogenic causes and negligent homicides. 225,000 iatrogenic causes make iatrogeny the third leading cause of death in the United States, second only to heart disease and cancer. The frightening reality of the situation is that this does not include disabilities and disorders; just deaths in hospitalized patients. More than four times as many people die in one year from doctors’ mistakes than died in the entire war in Vietnam. A conservative estimate of 98,000 annual deaths are negligent homicide from certified medical healthcare providers (Institute of Medicine, 2000).
Dr. Shelton supervised thousands of fasts with no adverse effects and thousands of cures. These success cases should speak for themselves.
Curtis D. Ward