Freedom or Free-For-All in Irish Healthcare? Establishing Improved Consumer Protection Mechanisms in the Irish Complementary and Alternative Medicine Sector
Citation:O'Leary, Claire Louise, Freedom or Free-For-All in Irish Healthcare? Establishing Improved Consumer Protection Mechanisms in the Irish Complementary and Alternative Medicine Sector, Trinity College Dublin.School of Law.LAW, 2017
Freedom or Free-for-All in Irish Healthcare 17 COL.pdf (Pre-print (author's copy) - Non-Peer Reviewed) 8.576Mb
Despite political rhetoric, the establishment of working groups, and the publication of commissioned reports in the early and mid-2000s recommending improvements in the regulation of the Irish complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) sector, little of significance has changed. Controversies undermining public confidence in authority, global digital dissemination of information, and higher levels of education and wealth have, among other factors, contributed to the increasing popularity of CAM in Ireland, though a small piece of empirical research undertaken as part of this thesis suggests that some consumers do not appear to fully understand what they are purchasing or, indeed, how it is regulated. However, the Irish Government, when not mandated to implement controls in this area, has neglected to do so, leaving these same consumers at risk of physical, psychological, and financial harm through use of therapies with unproven safety or efficacy. The implications of this lack of regulation extend beyond basic consumer protection, taking in issues of the right to bodily integrity, freedom of expression, the conflicting constitutional rights of the child and the family unit, choice and access in healthcare, medical ethics and whether CAM should be regulated as medicine or as something else entirely. Appropriate enforcement of existing consumer protection legislation could provide an immediate and relatively inexpensive way to minimise short-term consumer risk, ensuring that only verifiable claims be made by CAM providers. However, this would not address the absence of minimum education and training standards for practitioners among many other issues and so longer-term changes, focussing inter alia on the establishment of one or more novel registers for CAM representative bodies, consumer education, responsible and accurate media reporting on matters of science and healthcare, compliance with statutory child protection measures and stricter requirements for obtaining informed consent, must be considered. These may be complex, resource intensive and politically hazardous, but this should not present or be presented as an insurmountable obstacle for regulators. Action must be taken to ensure that the 'overarching objective to ensure proper protection of the public' in the CAM sector, as set out by then Minister Micheal Martin at the Launch of the Report on the Regulation of Practitioners of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Ireland in 2002, is finally met.
Author: O'Leary, Claire Louise
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Law. Discipline of Law
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available