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Your mother loves him. The scientific community, on the other hand, hates him. That charismatic doctor-with-a-perfect-smile has been called everything from a quack to “an inspiration.” No matter what you think of him, one thing is for sure: Dr. Mehmet Oz is one of America’s most controversial doctors.
The thing is, even if Dr. Oz is a real cardiologist (and for whatever reason, he wears scrubs on his show, lest you forget he’s a doctor), he continually shells out pseudoscientific medical advice.
In fact, according a 2014 study, scientists found that over half of the “medical advice” given on the show was either disproven or flat-out incorrect. What gives? “How is this NOT considered illegal?” asks Reddit user DananotDonna inReddit’s Explain It Like I’m Five Community.
Short answer? It’s complicated. According to Thompson Reuters FindLaw:
“Advice may be the practice of medicine when the advice is specific to a particular person’s illness or injury. Magazines and websites that offer general tips for getting over the common cold, therefore, are not engaging in the practice of medicine.”
And since Dr. Oz technically has no duty to the people he is slinging bad products to—since they are not his patients—medical malpractice is not a threat.
Attorney Jamie Weller sent Upvoted this statement about why she thinks he is not liable for medical malpractice:
“Dr. Oz avoids claims of medical malpractice by evading the duty most doctors owe to patients in the doctor-patient relationship by constructing the relationship as media personality and fan, not doctor-patient. There is no doctor-patient relationship, so no duty is owed.”
And Reddit user TerribleWisdom makes a good point about Dr. Oz’s media tactics:
He’s not really giving out health advice. Instead, he protects himself by merely reporting what others say. He’ll never say “/u/DanaNotDonna’s itchy feet will be cured by eating dryer lint.” Instead, he’ll quote a study like this: “According to a recent study by the Home Appliance Institute, 57% of people who eat dryer lint say their feet do not itch.” So it’s the authors of the study making the claim, except not really. The study authors are going to say something non-committal like “Although a positive correlation was found between dryer lint consumption and non-itchy feet, more study is needed and it will be several years before the production of dryer-lint based medicines.”
Reddit user triplealpha, an alleged physician, expands on that comment:
“This is the correct answer. Dr. Oz does however give out advice from time to time, but it’s always mixed in with enough common sense to where you would need to prove all other suggestions failed before you could call him a fraud. Essentially mixing 3 parts modern medicine with 1 part questionable snake oil salesman.
If you want to lose weight I would hypothetically say:
- Make sure you’re getting enough high fiber foods in your diet and minimizing high fat, high salt foods
- Make sure you get plenty of exercise, at least 30-60 minutes daily
- Reduce your stress level and get plenty of sleep
- Try this tameral bark tinture, it’s shown in at least 1 study to help participants lose 10 lbs per month
You didn’t lose weight just by buying that fake product at the supermarket? That’s just because you didn’t complete all 4 steps.”
Reddit users also compared Dr. Oz to Jerry Springer, but it seems that The Jerry Springer Show, at least, is remembered fondly by users.