Decision against Dr Mike Mew by Jonathan Sandler of the British Orthodontic Society

This post is informative and relates to this video

 

Dr Michael Mew

C/o Hempsons Solicitors

Hempsons House

40 Villiers Street

London

WC2N 6NJ

 

3 October 2018

 

Dear Dr Mew

Outcome of Wednesday’s meeting

I write further to the meeting which took place on Wednesday 26 September 2018 at 2pm in the QE2 Centre in London prior to the Board Meeting of the same date. You were accompanied to the meeting by your father, Mr John Mew.

The meeting was called under Article 17 of the Articles of Association which reads – “The Executive may suspend any member whose conduct in its opinion is contrary to the interests of the Society, or who fails to comply with these Articles or with the Rules and Bye-Laws. The Executive may recommend to the Board that the suspended member be expelled from the Society. No member shall be expelled by the Board unless and until he has been given notice in writing of the resolution to

expel him and given an opportunity to make representations orally or in writing to the Board”. You were suspended in September 2017 and you elected to present representations orally to the Board.

The interests and aims of the Society are set out in our Mission Statement on our website and are to strive “to promote the study and practice of orthodontics, to maintain and improve professional standards in orthodontics and to encourage research and education in orthodontics. In doing so, BOS seeks to improve the quality of medical care for the benefit of patients” As part of these aims, is our need and desire to provide accurate information to patients, thereby ensuring high standards of patient safety and quality of care.

Principal Address and Registered Office: 12 Bridewell Place, London EC4V 6AP Telephone: 020 7353 8680 Fax: 020 7353 8682  Email: ann.wright@bos.org.uk BOS is a Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in England and Wales, Company Number 03695486

 

Your representations

At your request, the meeting was audio recorded. You were also provided with a hard copy of the Hearing Pack which consisted of documents that you had been provided with previously to include the investigatory reports and correspondence with your solicitors, Messrs Hempsons. I attach a copy of the transcript of the minutes of the meeting as requested by you.

We would not normally allow accompaniment by a relative to the hearing, but we agreed to this for your assistance. We also agreed to provide you with a projector to present your representations at your request but you not to use this equipment.

At the meeting, you were given the opportunity to put forward everything you wanted to say to the Board, for the Board to properly consider the issue of your proposed expulsion.  You read out a prepared statement. The Board listened to what you had to say and there was a short break whilst the Board co-ordinated their questions to avoid repetition. You were then asked some questions about your presentation and about the allegations which had been sent to you in March 2018.

Having listened to what you had to say and having considered the matter in full, the unanimous decision of the Board is that in our opinion, your conduct is contrary to the interests of the Society. It is the Board’s opinion that your social media campaign has made a number of statements which

have misled or have the potential to mislead patients and the public. The Board considers that your actions through your social media campaign constitute a potential risk to patients (both physical and psychological) and are inconsistent with the Society’s aims of maintaining and improving professional standards to improve the quality of patient care.

 

Reasons for the decision

Throughout the hearing you repeatedly alleged that the Society was trying to silence you because you had unorthodox views. This is untrue. As the chair of the meeting, Professor Sandler made clear to you that the Society promotes research into Orthodontics and welcomes alternative views. We accept that Orthodontics is not a perfect science and we are constantly seeking to improve our methods and critique ourselves in line with evidence-based practice.

We have no issue with unorthodox views and ideas for change which is how Orthodontics developed the first place. New ideas however, should be backed by scientific research, with evidence based on patient studies. We have seen no such evidence or patient studies from you to date, nor did you present such evidence during the meeting when given the opportunity to do so. On the contrary,

you stated – “I should not have to provide any evidence as a registered specialist, and a member of your organisation suspended or not”. These are your hypotheses and therefore the onus is on you is to provide the evidence to support them using recognised scientific methods.

Whilst we do not have any issue with your alternative views on Orthodontics, we do take issue with your social media campaign which, in our opinion, misleads the public, patients and advises on areas of medicine (to include Orthopaedics, Paediatrics, ENT and Neurology) in which you admitted you have no expertise. Accordingly, this is against the aims of the Society and causes potential risks to patients / patient safety. The social media campaign that you have run seems to us to demonstrate an unhealthy obsession with publicity to the detriment of patients.  You were asked by the Society to take down a number of your videos in the past but you have refused to do so.

The allegations

You were given a set of very specific allegations in March 2018 set out in a detailed report prepared by Alison Murray, our Chair of Ethics. You have never provided a full response to those allegations, just a blanket denial prior to the hearing, despite being asked to do so. The meeting on Wednesday

26 September 2018 was going to be the first opportunity we had to hear your detailed responses to those specific allegations. Notwithstanding this, your responses at the hearing were vague and elusive.

You claimed that you were not able to respond to a large number of allegations (namely allegations

1-4, 7-9 and 11) because you stated this would require “a discussion on the aetiology of malocclusion and quite possibly one on the pathology”.  All of the allegations in this category concerned what appeared to be clear evidence of misleading and untrue information provided to the public and patients, via your social media sites. It is not accepted by the Board that you were unable to respond to these questions and there was every opportunity for you to do so. It was very much felt that you were putting forward the need for a debate on orthodontics as a “smokescreen” to avoid responding to the specific allegations.

In relation to other allegations you said that you would not respond because you would be later providing information to the General Dental Council (“GDC”). For example, regarding the concerns about your social media on baby led weaning, you stated – “I am not going to make a full defence to this as it is very likely that I will have to do this, make this again, to the GDC and I’m duly suspicious that any comments that I may make now maybe used against me at the GDC

You also claimed in relation to allegations 11 and 12 (which were specific concerns about patient care) that there was evidence to assist you, but this would involve revealing patient information and this prevented you from responding.  We accept that patient confidentiality is extremely important, but there was no need to disclose the patient’s personal information and you could have spoken in general terms about the patients’ care, particularly as these queries arose from information already published on your public YouTube videos, presumably with patient consent. Again, this felt like another excuse to avoid dealing with the allegation.

You stated for the first time (despite being provided with the allegations in March 2018) that you had been misquoted in allegation 3, in that you were not stating that people with crooked teeth were less intelligent but that your comment referred to those with sleep apnoea. You confirmed during the meeting that you have no qualifications over and above any of the Orthodontists present at the meeting. You are not medically qualified and have not undergone any additional training in medical disciplines.

None of the Orthodontists at the meeting felt qualified to make a statement that those with sleep apnoea are less intelligent. It is difficult to understand why you feel that you are qualified to do so. Further we understand that there are some studies which claim that sleep apnoea can reduce cognitive ability, but it would be difficult to accept that this affects intelligence. At the meeting our Chair of Ethics (AM) and you (MM) had the following discussion recorded in the transcript –

AM         So you’re saying that patients who have sleep apnoea are more stupid

 

MM       They have cognitive difficulties, yeah

 

AM         You said they were more intelligent if they didn’t have sleep apnoea

 

MM       Well that seems to be what science seems to say yeah

 

Once again, you appear to have strayed into other areas of medicine in which you have no expertise and have made public comments suggesting that those with sleep apnoea are less intelligent on the basis that to you “that seems to be what science seems to say” but without any actual evidence.

In any event, having reviewed the evidence, it would appear to the Board that you were indeed stating in the video that those with crooked teeth are less intelligent. The discussion on the video was about expanding the palate and Dr Lin then speaks about the types of patients he sees. Dr Lin claims that he sees patients with issues with the gut, issues with sleep and behavioural issues. Your comment was that this involves – “the intelligence of your child for the rest of their life

Later in the same video your father suggests that those with crooked teeth are less healthy and you agree with him. We are concerned that you are deliberating using “scare mongering” tactics to lure the public into entering into a course of treatment as well as potentially causing many patients and their carers considerable psychosocial distress. As a Board, we do not consider that these statements on social media are appropriate and they bring Orthodontics into disrepute.

We also thought it was highly inappropriate to release the video with a personal message to Mark Zuckerberg entitled “Mark, you may well die a decade early and this is preventable; by Dr. Mike Mew” and to diagnose Mr Zuckerberg. In the Mark Zuckerberg video you state “I am not meaning to be rude, I am a doctor I am here to help people. I am here to make people better” and at the hearing, it was suggested to you that it could be a criminal offence to hold yourself out as a medical doctor. You went on to state that the public believed you to be a dentist not a doctor. However, this was

one of a number of examples where the Board felt that you had gone beyond your expertise as a

dentist.

In your YouTube video entitled “Preventing Children from Needing Orthodontic Treatment in the Future” you state of weaning babies – “Give them hard food…Also large lumps of hard food – at this age it is very difficult to choke- their hyoid hasn’t dropped and if she (the baby) does take something on board that causes her to choke, right now, it’s very easy to turn her upside down and give her a sharp smack on the back” and you also state “babies should go from breast or bottle to something solid” When questioned about this, you quoted two references which were readily available on the internet but neither source gave the advice you had quoted on social media nor advised that a baby should be given “a sharp smack on the back”. Your recommendation about “a sharp smack on the back” is contrary to resuscitation and choking guidelines. Additionally, your advice which was made publicly could potentially cause injury or death to a child. You said that you had taken the video down but that you stood by its content.

In a YouTube video of 6 September 2017, you suggested that the best time to treat a child was at age 5 or 6 years. When Professor Sandler asked what evidence you had for treating a child of 5 or 6 years creating an opportunity for you to provide evidence-based reasoning, you refused to answer stating “I think we need a debate on the aetiology of malocclusions first of all” and you went onto state “No sorry, you have to demonstrate that I’m wrong . That’s how it works.” The Board were concerned that you felt that you could make claims on a public website to potential patients without any scientific evidence to support these, and that when asked for such evidence you refused to provide it, stating that you needed to be proven wrong.  Again, the Board would emphasise the onus is in fact on you to provide the evidence to support your claims.

Similarly, when questioned as to why you were giving advice to people on their posture, you felt that you could do this because at the start of the videos you had made it clear that you were a dentist.

Insight

Overall, it was highly significant for the Board that at no point during the hearing did you accept that you had done anything incorrect and you did not appear to be willing to reflect on your practise. Despite evidence to the contrary, you specifically stated that you had complied with the GDC rules on advertising, that you stood by the content of your social media campaign and did not accept that you had misled the public or patients.

You did not accept that some of your statements could be misleading or offensive. You stood by your statement that ““I believe I am getting with best facial changes in adults yet achieved” and the comment : “I presented in Philadelphia and I said to people that I thought 10 per cent of people over

60 in North America and probably Western Europe are going to die 10 years earlier because of sleep

apnoea and its consequence…I could tip that scale for everyone else on the planet”. You were not willing to accept that these wide-ranging statements had gone too far.

You did not consider that your photograph of Aboriginal slaves with the comment “A shameful history without question but these guys have got great abs” was offensive, and stood by it. No doubt what you refer to “great abs” would have been obtained through hard work in slavery. These are not remarks that the general public would expect a dentist to make on a public forum.

Conclusion

For the reasons above, it is the unanimous opinion of the Board that you have behaved in a way that is contrary to the aims of the British Orthodontic Society and that your continued membership

would be incompatible with the Society’s values and aims.

We have therefore unanimously decided to expel you from the Society forthwith.

We are sorry that we have had to take this step but the protection of patients and promoting high orthodontic standards is the core of our values. We cannot standby and allow one of our members to flagrantly mislead patients, stray into other medical areas without expertise and risk patient safety.

We note that you have stated that you wish to report the outcome of the meeting on social media and we trust that you will do so accurately recording that the Society was not concerned about your views on Orthodontics, but the concern is misleading patients, advising on areas of medicine outside your expertise and potentially placing patients (to include babies) at risk through the advice you

have given, which was beyond the scope of your orthodontic training.

As a Society, we have never intended to silence you and this was not the basis of your original suspension. Therefore, we would respectively advise you to be mindful of this fact if you decide to report the outcome of the investigation on social media, before making any incorrect or misleading statements.

Kindly acknowledge safe receipt of this letter.

Your faithfully

British Orthodontic Society

Signed by Professor Jonathan Sandler for and on behalf of the Board

 

This document has been automatically transcribed by Adobe software which may have caused some minor inaccuracies.

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