Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Meadowlands hospital neuroscientist fired over controversial autism treatment

By Susan K. Livio
The Star Ledger
Originally published January 10, 2012

Philip DeFina, PhD
The neuroscientist who would have overseen a controversial therapy for children with autism has been fired by Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus and, in a separate action, his nomination to a state commission on brain research has been delayed.

Philip DeFina was part of an ambitious plan by Meadowlands to offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy to children diagnosed with autism. The therapy, typically used to treat burns and other wounds by energizing dying tissue, required approval from the state Department of Health and Senior Services. Meadowlands would have been the first hospital in the state to offer the experimental treatment.

But the application ran into strong opposition, and questions were raised in a Nov. 27 Star-Ledger article in which traditional medical and psychological experts said the treatment offers families false hope while draining bank accounts because the experimental therapy is not covered by insurance. Some families say it has helped their children, and argued that if a method is safe and seems to be effective, it should be given a chance even if it hasn’t been thoroughly vetted through research.

The article also described DeFina’s doctorate in clinical psychology from Fielding Graduate University. The school, a mainly online university with monthly in-person sessions, is the only one to receive national accreditation from the American Psychological Association. DeFina’s experimental treatments with neurologist Jonathan Fellus for coma and brain injury have fetched as much as $100,000 from the families of patients who have not improved using traditional means. Fellus remains at Meadowlands.

There rest of the article is here.