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Universal Medicine affiliated doctor reprimanded

Dr Samuel Kim has been reprimanded for recommending treatments such as esoteric lung massage without revealing his affiliations with Universal Medicine.

Dr Samuel Kim has been reprimanded for recommending treatments such as chakra puncture without revealing his affiliations with Universal Medicine.

A Goonellabah lung specialist and Queensland University lecturer, Dr Samuel Tae-Kyu Kim, has been reprimanded by the Medical Council of New South Wales Professional Standards Committee following a complaint by a patient to the Health Care Complaints Commission.

The complainant, referred to in the inquiry as ‘Patient A’, first consulted Dr Kim in October 2010 for chronic cough, which was ultimately diagnosed as ‘hypersensitivity pneumonitis’.

She also experienced a range of musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal symptoms, including recurrent joint pain, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and general malaise.

Patient A was concerned about the changing nature of her diagnosis and the number of medications she was prescribed by Dr Kim, but it was his undisclosed connection with Universal Medicine (UM) and referrals to esoteric practitioners connected with Universal Medicine which prompted Patient A to complain to the Commission.

Esoteric therapies

Dr Kim recommended to Patient A various esoteric therapies offered by Universal Medicine, including to ‘esoteric lung massage’ offered by his wife and fellow UM student, Jasna Jugovic.

She was also referred to compounding chemist Michael Serafin for ‘bioidentical hormone replacement therapy’ as well as to another UM associated practitioner, Neil Ringe, for ‘chakra puncture’ therapy.

Dr Kim also recommended the patient contact UM leader Serge Benhayon for a consultation.

In November 2012, he emailed Patient A “…I also feel you should see Serge Benhayon one day sooner than later to help you – as your physical medicine is going well otherwise…..”

Dr Kim admitted to the Committee that, ‘At the time that I sent the email to Patient A I thought that I was clear that Mr Benhayon was not offering physical medical treatment. Mr Benhayon offers “spiritual healing” ….

‘I acknowledge that I did not make sufficiently clear to Patient A the distinction between the conventional medicine I was providing as her thoracic physician and the complementary therapies I recommended she pursue with Mr Ringe, Ms Jugovic, Mr Serafin and Mr Benhayon.’

Significantly below standard

The Committee determined that Dr Kim’s conduct was ‘significantly below the standard reasonably expected of a practitioner with his level of training and experience.’

They determined he ‘inappropriately recommended and prescribed bioidentical HRT for Patient A, when this was outside the scope of his expertise and done without appropriate referral.’

He was also reprimanded for recommending esoteric lung massage and chakra puncture, ‘knowing there was insufficient evidence for their efficacy as treatments for Patient A’s lung condition.’

Dr Kim stated that chakra puncture is an ‘internationally recognised therapy’, although Universal Medicine is the only group which practices and teaches chakra puncture.

He also told the Committee that he had recommended chakra puncture for persistent chest pain, but without first referring Patient A to a Pain Clinic. He said he didn’t have a strong relationship with the local Pain Clinic and didn’t think Patient A had the kind of pain which was appropriate for referral to a Pain Clinic. Dr Kim said that with hindsight he ‘could have done better’.

UM connection

Dr Kim told the Committee that since 2005 he has been a student of Universal Medicine and had undertaken a number of Universal Medicine courses. He pays an annual fee to be a member of Universal Medicine’s Esoteric Practitioners Association and receives newsletters from, and attends conferences of, the Association.

He has written an article which is on the Universal Medicine website and also a letter to the Courier Mail newspaper around September 2012 defending Universal Medicine.

Dr Kim leases premises from Universal Medicine and his professional letterhead states that the Blue Hills Lung Clinic is located in the Universal Medicine Clinic. In oral evidence he acknowledged he was an advocate for and supporter of Universal Medicine principles.

Dr Kim admitted he did not explain any interconnections between himself and Universal Medicine practitioners Neil Ringe, Serge Benhayon and Michael Serafin, but asserted he has no ‘interconnections’ with these practitioners other than they are all members of Universal Medicine and the Esoteric Practitioners Association.

He acknowledged that he has trained in Universal Medicine with Mr Ringe and Mr Serafin and some of his patients have also consulted Mr Ringe, Mr Benhayon and Mr Serafin.

Dr Kim admitted that he did not disclose his connection to Ms Jugovic to whom he is now married.

The Committee stated that as the esoteric treatments offered to Patient A were ‘not treatments generally regarded as part of the repertoire of respiratory medicine and they are not recognised by Medicare… full disclosure is essential to allow a patient to make an informed and appropriate choice.’

19th century attitude

The Committee heard evidence from Dr Yates, a consultant thoracic physician and Senior Staff Specialist at St Vincent Hospital in Sydney.

She said UM ‘affects an attitude which conventional medicine abandoned in the 19th century and this heightens the need to clearly distinguish for patients the difference between conventional medicine and Universal Medicine. Particularly as it is unclear, given it is a relatively new organisation, how Universal Medicine’s training programs are accredited.’

The Committee accepted her evidence as to the need for doctors to exercise caution and openly disclose personal connections and personal beliefs about unproven medical treatments, when referring patients to other practitioners, especially when the referral is for treatments which are not generally accepted evidence-based treatments.

Ruling

The Committee ruled that, ‘prior to recommending or referring a patient for complementary therapies or treatment, [Dr Kim] must obtain a written opinion from a specialist thoracic physician who has been approved by the Council. [Dr Kim] must provide a copy of the patient’s medical records to the thoracic physician for review and must discuss the patient’s diagnosis, current condition, prognosis and the nature and purpose of the proposed complementary therapies or treatment.’

It also required that, ‘at the time of recommending or referring a patient for complementary therapy or treatment, [Dr Kim] must:

  1. explain to the patient the distinction between conventional therapies or treatment and the complementary therapies or treatment being discussed.
  2. inform the patient of any professional or personal connection the practitioner has with person(s) the patient is being recommended or referred to.’

Dr Kim has the right to seek a review by the Medical Council of NSW of the Committee’s order to impose conditions on his registration.

 


14 responses to “Universal Medicine affiliated doctor reprimanded”

  1. Sally Hawksmore says:

    Fascinating story, very revealing, and congratulations to the NSW Medical Council (and the Echo) for this investigation. It’s appalling how Patient A was treated and Dr Yates is absolutely correct in her assessment of Universal Medicine. Patients should be made very clear that non of the so-called therapies offered by Universal Medicine have ever been proven or tested in a suitable medical environment. The fact that this doctor has been pushing them is disgraceful.

  2. Anna says:

    I think it’s brilliant when Doctors suggest or refer patients to alternative healing treatments – my GP, gynaecologist and ENT doctors have all referred me to various complementary treatments/ therapists over the years that ultimately successfully treated my conditions. Of course completmentary medicine isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and I think by nature aren’t necessarily ‘provable’.

    • Union Street Resident says:

      But wouldn’t you want to be told if you were being referred to someone related to the doctor? I know I would want that transparency. I don’t think what happened sounds appropriate at all.

  3. Peter Cavanagh says:

    My opinion in response:

    There’s a Pandora’s box of issues about this story just begging to be ripped open and exposed…

    The true story: A highly competent and dedicated doctor gets investigated at length and held to account by regulatory authorities in a four year exercise that is way over the top for the nature of the patient’s complaint. The investigation, as it was conducted, was an act of deliberate and prolonged harm against the doctor. The published report on the investigation, inquiry and punishment of the doctor, as the culmination of the exercise, is an act of deliberate harm toward not only the doctor but also toward the two organisations and four other people repeatedly mentioned in the report, none of whom were under investigation or subject to the inquiry, but are nonetheless deliberately targeted. One party other than the doctor was mentioned as many as 68 times in the 26 page report. Publication of the committee’s report was a purposeful act of deliberate harm, effectively handing over the doctor and the other parties named for crucifixion by the news media. The media eagerly latch on and sensationalise for a clever, juicy, biased story deliberately crafted and published in order protract and amplify the harm, bringing to full fruition the committee’s intended and hoped-for harm. And finally the internet trolls drool with delight over fresh ammunition with which to launch another round of bullying and intimidation against the doctor and the other parties named in the report. The regulatory authorities involved have a party and dance with glee upon seeing the total harm, damage and suffering inflicted upon their intended targets, even more than they hoped for… Bonus!

    This CLEARLY is abuse, harassment, bullying, intended harm and ultimately flagrant persecution of the highest order. The harm to this point already is real and extreme. The future potential harm from the acts already committee is even greater.

    The true story: The Dark Ages of the Inquisition, replete with intimidation, torture and abuse actually never ended. They are alive and well!

    So, to whom are the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Professional Standards Committee, the news media and the cyber-bullies, clearly all complicit in this persecution, accountable?

    • Anton Barsky says:

      The AMC is a regulatory body whose stated aim is “to ensure that standards of education, training and assessment of the medical profession promote and protect the health of the Australian community.”

      It’s an independent body made up of a wide variety of Australian medical professionals and its purpose is to regulate, and that’s exactly what its done. Dr Kim has every right to appeal.

      Your comments on the other hand are CLEARLY utter nonsense. Complete paranoid conspiracy claptrap with no basis in fact.

    • Marsha Salyon says:

      That’s nuts! None of the evidence suggests anything that you suggest and it seems to me you have an alterior motive in trashing this story. Despite what you think The Echo has done a great job in reporting this story and I bet with of all sorts of legal shenanigans from the Universal Medicine group.

    • Lyn says:

      I find your opinion wildly unreasonable and illogical. Your thinking and suggestions are absurd. To think that this poor excuse for a doctor, did nothing wrong !!

      One certainly does has to question the level of integrity among Universal Medicines other practitioners .They all seem to find this behaviour completely acceptable, like Mr Cavanagh does.

  4. Esther Rockett says:

    Hi ‘Peter Cavanagh’, what’s your relationship with Universal Medicine?

    I notice you had comment on the health and wellbeing of Patient A, no criticism of Universal Medicine’s over the top online attacks on official complainants, critics and journalists, and no comment on the statement that UM is ‘an attitude towards the origins of illness and its treatment… which conventional medicine abandoned in the 19th century’. UM has a very poor approach to reassuring the public of its profusely advertised ‘integrity’.

    According to your version of events, counter to the official and accountable process, the doctor and his Universal Medicine colleagues are the real victims. It’s difficult to swallow.

  5. Lance says:

    Anna- correct, they are by definition not provable. If you mean, they can’t be disproved, you’re wrong. Any benefits are anecdotal, not peer reviewed (ie, the subject of rigorous efficacy testing and then triple checked by dispassionate parties) You don’t hear about the cases that do nothing (most of them) or go wrong. And it looks like when you do, you deny them. There’s a good reason doctors have a code that restricts them from referring patients to complementary healing, especially the type that are made up by someone who self accredits while claiming to know more than medical science. You can like Sam Kim and he can still be in the wrong.

    Peter, you look like you don’t understand that these bodies won’t take action unless it is very serious. No one has colluded, and there’s no conspiracy. At least in our version of the world. Sam made errors of judgement and he has been called to account for them. One hopes that other doctors within the UM community take heed rather than lending their name to dubious therapies.

  6. Joost says:

    From my experience of the therapies available through Universal Medicine I can only say they are well and truly worth looking into as the support they have offered me and my body is and has been huge. I now feel calm & more solid in any situation, open with any other person and my family life is simply beauty-full.
    Re Sam Kim, from my experience with him he is most caring, gentle in his manners, ready to assist and very funny too, a true gentleman.

  7. Joost says:

    When it comes to reporting matters such as these it is easy to mock anything that isn’t proven through the conventional system, though whatever is now proven by that system was once unproven..! When it comes to not yet proven or unproven therapies we as a society need to listen to the anecdotal evidence that is available as there is pure Gold to be found and history shows so when you look at new treatment methods that have been accepted over the years with great success.
    Personally I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for a now proven by the conventional system treatment (inflamed appendix removal) and I also wouldn’t be living the wonderfull life I’m living if it wasn’t for a not yet proven by the conventional system treatment (Chakra-puncture)

  8. David Bowie says:

    None of the self proclaimed healing methods from UM have been proven to work and for a Doctor to prescribe these sort of treatments is irresponsible. People that have been manipulated by Serge and his puppets are lacking in self confidence and are perfect subjects to carry on the crazy teachings of this cult. Unfortunately Joost your argument has no substance nor is it supported by scientific evidence. This is why we have regulatory bodies to protect the public from predatory behaviour and so called professionals acting recklessly. How could anyone believe a man that claims he is reincarnated as Leonardo Da Vinci and has come from the stars to save the world. He is a bankrupt tennis coach from Sydney who has an over active imagination that preys on the vulnerable.

  9. Chris Tomkins says:

    I wish to comment on this in the best way I can without flaming or abuse of anyone’s opinions
    I have been treated by doctor Kim since 2013 I have multiple facets of lung disease brought on by sickness as a small child and many occupational exposures, none of these through fault of my own only due to lack of health and safety measures by government departments and private enterprise I have worked in from late eighties on.
    No doctors up until doctor Kim had ever diagnosed me or in one case said it was all in my head.

    I have been sick all my life and have been treated by nearly every pharmaceutical available, some with very nasty side effects.

    I have come from conservative family background and have worked hard all my life despite my illness, I am not a smoker!

    I have been treated very respectfully by doctor Kim and treated medically exceptionally well with holistic therapy as I have asked to be, as well as conventional medicine.

    People have a duty to investigate for themselves therapies and ask their specialists about options and also learn to treat themselves rather than blame someone else for failure of treatments to work.

    I do not try to blame the many doctors who have failed to treat me successfully for the last 40 odd years or spend the time to diagnose me correctly only give me sprays and pills that shorten my lifespan and make me feel unwell in other ways.

    I am feeling the best I ever have and hope for a some what longer life.

    Thank you doctor Kim you have saved my life and many many others

  10. John Sporrin says:

    “People have a duty to investigate for themselves therapies and ask their specialists about options and also learn to treat themselves rather than blame someone else for failure of treatments to work.”

    And doctors have a duty to declare outside interests rather than concealing them and prescribing woo rather than the conventional medicine a patient expects from a regular doc. That’s what happened here and it’s good Dr Kim was forced to address his errors by the Medical Council.

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