HIV: MEDICAL TREATMENTS-TRADITIONAL MEDICINE

Traditional medicine is a tightly controlled system of regulations, accreditation, approval, and licenses. Providers of health care—physicians, midlevel practitioners, nurses—must be licensed, and their licenses depend on training, postgraduate education, and certifying examinations. The settings in which health care is provided—hospitals, chronic care facilities, and home care programs—must be accredited by the Joint Committee on Accreditation of Health Organizations (JCAHO). The drugs must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency responsible for judging the safety and effectiveness of new drugs. The organizations that finance health care (private insurers, Medicaid, Medicare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield) are regulated by agencies of the federal and state governments. (In a way, the financers of health care largely drive the system: they will not reimburse for care by unlicensed care providers, for stays in nonaccredited facilities, or for treatment with unapproved drugs.)     This system of controls is set up to safeguard the public. The controls are meant to stop people or programs or institutions from claiming to offer services or cures that are in fact unnecessary, useless, or unproven.*176\191\2*

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