Reiki, Access Bar, dental biological decoding… These charlatans still present on Doctolib – L’Express

Reiki Access Bar dental biological decoding… These charlatans still present

But what is happening at the main platform for making medical appointments in France? Here, a nurse offering Reiki sessions, a practice which is regularly reported to the Interministerial Mission for Vigilance and the Fight against Sectarian Abuses (Miviludes). There, a psychologist highlighting Access Bar transfers, a pseudo-therapy with worrying excesses. Or osteopaths who claim to treat stuttering and strabismus, when these disorders must be treated by speech therapists, and others who implement a multitude of techniques from “quantum medicine”, which has not been never made the slightest proof of therapeutic effectiveness. We even find practitioners offering naturopathy, even though the promotion of this practice on the site had triggered an intense controversy two years ago, pushing Doctolib to delete 7,500 accounts from its site.

On social networks, the persistence of hundreds of profiles promoting pseudo-medicines upsets many doctors. Some accuse the platform of not still not having taken the measure of charlatanism, or even to showcase it. Interviewed by L’Express, the first French unicorn (valued at nearly 5.9 billion euros, according to Statisa) denies it, even if it recognizes that professionals do indeed offer unconventional “therapies” on its site. “The conclusion of the consultations launched two years ago was that Doctolib cannot sort alone among the hundreds of existing practices, must not choose which is acceptable or not and must take the legal framework as a reference,” argues the site, which had met the Ministry of Health, but also the No FakeMed collectives (which warns of the dangers of false medicine) or the Extractor (known for having denounced the excesses of the champion of raw foodism Thierry Casasnovas).

“Grey areas” of law where certain professionals take refuge

Today, the platform is limited to listing health professionals such as defined by the public health code (doctors, odontologists, dental surgeons, midwives, pharmacists, caregivers, nurses, masseurs-physiotherapists, osteopaths, etc.), who are registered by their Regional Health Agency (ARS), have a number in the Shared Directory health professionals (RPPS), as well as a diploma validated by the State. All others have been removed from the appointment site. Problem is, practitioners who meet these criteria can therefore stay… even if they offer pseudo-therapies in their profiles.

READ ALSO: Doctolib controversy: “Legitimizing crazy practices endangers patients”

“This requires us to be very vigilant about what is, or is not, illegal, and it is sometimes very complicated. But only a small minority is concerned,” further assures the platform, according to which 1% of cases would be outside the legality. The remaining 99% would be in a “gray area” of the law. There is, for example, no text prohibiting a doctor from practicing shamanism, as long as he does not offer these unconventional practices as part of the treatment. “As a private company, we cannot comment on what should be accepted or not, nor investigate to determine whether each health professional respects strict separation,” believes Doctolib.

“Practitioners can attribute to themselves skills that they do not have”

“These are elements of language that they have been repeating for several months, but it is not because a health professional has an RPPS number that he can do anything,” annoys one Ile-de-France resuscitator who regularly broadcasts his reports on X (formerly Twitter), but wishes to remain anonymous. “Doctolib lets practitioners claim skills or pretensions to care that they do not have and which sometimes flirt with the illegal practice of medicine,” he denounces. This resuscitator had, for example, pointed out, several months ago, the presence of practitioners offering vaginal osteopathy. Since then, there is no longer any trace of it on Doctolib, which has therefore reacted. But other problems persist.

“We find health professionals who carry out colon hydrotherapy carried out with colorful machines imported from China, which has nothing to do with the medical practice called an enema: we are sure of the illegal exercise of medicine”, continues the Ile-de-France doctor. Same story from the No FakeMed collective, “disappointed” with the current situation. “More than a year ago, we carried out work which led to the ousting of problematic practitioners. Today, we understand that it is sometimes difficult for them to moderate everything, but we also see a lack of will and commitment However, they are still responsible for who they welcome on their site”, underlines Dr. Pierre de Bremond d’Ars, general practitioner and president of the collective.

READ ALSO: Auriculotherapy, anthroposophy, naturopathy: nurses in working order against pseudo-therapies

So where should the company place the barrier? Faced with osteopathy, which the French love and which can have benefits for treating superficial back pain, but which some practitioners make claims of treatment that are not proven by science, and even dangerous? Or traditional Chinese medicine, for which the evidence of effectiveness is limited, but for which the diploma is nevertheless issued by universities? What about sophrology, equally criticized, but present in many hospitals? And if reiki and kinesiology can lead to a loss of opportunity for patients, in particular by delaying appropriate treatment, they are not illegal either. Miviludes also considers that the mere mention of an unconventional practice is not enough to prove a deviation in care or a sectarian drift – for this, a body of evidence and more in-depth investigations are required.

“This tool is so successful that we expect moderation to match this success. Although I hear it is difficult to control everything or act on practitioners who are not doing anything illegal, Doctolib could at least equip itself with an independent scientific committee, which would know precisely where to place the limit, or even restrict access to its site to professions which an Order”, suggests for his part Dr. Jérôme Barrière, committed oncologist in favor of good care practices.

READ ALSO: Doctolib controversies: “We have the impression of having opened Pandora’s box”

Could Doctolib not also prevent health professionals from proposing practices that go beyond their validated area of ​​expertise? “Should we suspend an account simply on the basis of a mention of acupuncture, for example? We don’t think so,” retorts Doctolib, which indicates that it is attentive to reports of problematic profiles and regularly asks professionals to modify their descriptions, or even intervene directly if necessary. The platform would also reserve the right to alert the Orders, the ARS, or even the gendarmerie, in case of doubt. “We check between 15,000 and 20,000 accounts every month (out of 170,000 in France) and we send 1,000 notifications for illegality per year,” continues the French unicorn, which nevertheless recognizes that it encounters problems with professions lacking Order, in particular osteopaths and psychologists, which would make reporting and obtaining legal information difficult.

“The fact remains that reporting profiles is still as complicated on Doctolib and the best way to get things moving is still to do it loudly on X,” laments Pierre de Bremond d’Ars. It is true that there is a lack of institutional support, but despite everything, it is their responsibility as hosts to put serious health practitioners on the same scale and others who do completely eccentric things, even at risk of sectarian aberrations” .

“Read the future in your teeth”

Some cases raise questions. In just a few clicks, it is possible to make an appointment with Dr. Marc Mickaël Bransten, a doctor who was removed from the Order of Physicians because of his dangerous prescriptions for, according to him, treating Lyme disease, as L’Express reported last May. Although Dr. Bransten’s disbarment is suspended, since he has appealed this decision, one of his victims has expressed concern on X. “We are aware of this particular case and have contacted the Order. Although the appeal is suspensive, the director general of the local ARS would have the right, if he considered that there is an imminent danger for the patient, to pronounce the immediate suspension. To our knowledge, he does not have this. done in the meantime, we cannot say the law for the authorities,” insists Doctolib. It remains that based on its conditions of use, the platform for making medical appointments could, for example, claim damage to its reputation. Which she didn’t do either.

More recently, Doctolib was also strongly criticized for having invited, into its content creation teams on social networks, a naturopathic dental assistant and promoter of dental biological decoding, a mystical practice which claims to “read the future in the teeth” (sic). An initiative again criticized by many doctors, including the No FakeMed collective. This time, the medical appointment booking site pleads good faith. “We work with a lot of health professionals in the context of very diverse actions. There, it was a pair between a dentist and her assistant, because it is the latter who use our software the most, we do not “We were not informed that the latter was also developing a naturopath activity… Otherwise we would not have invited her”, defends the company. The fact remains that this lack of vigilance does not go unnoticed, and risks being criticized for a long time, as long as Doctolib does not take more drastic measures.