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Autism Doc Faces Discipline Over Treatment Methods

By Prescott Carlson in News on Oct 14, 2011 8:20PM

2010_01_25autism.jpg A Naperville doctor who was a part of a 2009 Tribune investigation of alternative treatment methods for autism has had a complaint filed against her by Illinois regulators.

The Trib reports that Dr. Anjum Usman may be subject to discipline by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation over her controversial treatments of the disorder including vitamin supplements, chelation to remove heavy metals from the body, and oxygen therapy. The complaint called the treatments an "extreme departure from rational medical judgment," and that "none [of the treatments have] been proven to influence the course of autism." The department is asking that Usman's medical license be suspended or revoked. The IDFPR regulates nearly all licensed professionals in the state, such as doctors, veterinarians, funeral home directors, and even nail technicians.

The Trib's science and medical reporter Trine Tsouderos has been bringing to light quack autism treatments for several years at the paper, including a feature article about the supposed "miracle drug" Lupron, off-label use of the supplement OSR#1, and other alternative autism treatments that Tsouderos calls "uncontrolled experimentation."

Usman was part of the focus of a 2009 report co-written by Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan, who said at the time, "We base our treatment protocols on the lab results, parent reports and physical examination of our patients -- nothing out of the ordinary in the practice of medicine."

Besides Usman's troubles with the IDFPR, she's also part of an ongoing lawsuit filed in early 2010 by James Coman, a father claiming that treatments given to his son by Usman were "based on inappropriate lab testing." The boy had been taken to Usman by his mother, against Coman's wishes. Dr. Daniel Rossignol, a Florida doctor, is a co-defendant in the lawsuit.

Usman's attorney, in an email to the Trib, said that Usman "is a caring, compassionate doctor whose top priority is her patients' well being... She is an excellent doctor."

A hearing date to determine the fate of Usman's medical license will be set at the end of November.