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Chronic fatigue syndrome guidelines spark media row

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 25 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1284
  1. Melissa Sweet, freelance journalist who specialises in covering health and medicine in Australia

    Value of evidence based medicine at centre of dispute

    A media furore erupted even before long awaited clinical practice guidelines for chronic fatigue syndrome were published in Australia.

    “Sick and tired patients in uproar” blared one front page headline in a leading daily newspaper. “Patients slam guidelines on chronic fatigue syndrome” greeted readers of one of the medical news magazines.

    The chairman of the ME/CFS Association of Australia, Simon Molesworth, was quoted as saying that the guidelines trivialised the condition, blamed sufferers, and would encourage misdiagnosis, inappropriate medical care, and misconceptions about the illness. He was also quoted saying that the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, which developed the guidelines, and The Medical Journal of Australia, which published them, could be held legally liable if patients were made sicker as a result of doctors following them.

    In the eight days after the first stories appeared, Mr Molesworth, a prominent Queen's Counsel used to dealing with journalists, …

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