Popular TV doctor, surgeon, and cardiologist, Dr. Oz is being sued over a home remedy to treat insomnia, the New York Daily News reports because a man suffered third-degree burns from applying a sock filled with warmed rice to his feet to increase circulation. What's wrong with this scenario is that the home remedy is merely a knapsack or sock that you fill with warm rice. But the rice in the sock got too hot in the microwave.
When the pillow or sock filled with warmed rice is placed against your feet, it's supposed to warm your feet, and your insomnia probably will disappear when the warmth on your feet relaxes you and helps to move blood to your feet through improved, warmth-stimulated circulation. But the idea is you're supposed to warm the rice, not make it burning hot before you put it near your feet. And a microwave can heat up dry, raw rice to be too hot.
The question is did Dr. Oz assume someone would test the temperature of the hot rice pack against skin before putting it to the feet and perhaps relaxing, drifting in thoughts, hoping to quell insomnia? The danger is when you begin to slip into sleep and the heat of the rice stays against your skin as well as if the rice is too hot when you first apply it, even though it's inside fabric. The same situation would apply to a hot water bottle, heating pad, or electric blanket. You need to test the warmth so it doesn't burn if left unattended against skin.
A senior citizen is suing Dr. Oz because the heated rice sock/pillow home remedy caused third-degree burns
So one man is suing Dr. Oz, the celebrity cardiology surgeon because he reports the heated rice pillow home remedy burned his feet, according to the March 20, 2013 Fox8News article by Lindsay Buckingham, "Dr. Oz Sued Over Home Remedy | FOX8.com." The burns turned out to be third-degree burns, according to the article naming the gentleman, and the March 20, 2013 news article contains a statement from the man's attorney to the Daily News.
The lawsuit stems from an an April 17, 2012 TV episode of The Dr. Oz Show, where Dr. Oz reportedly told viewers to fill the toes of a pair of socks with uncooked rice, warm them up in the microwave oven, then slip on the socks, according to the Daily News. On the TV program, instructions were to relax in bed for about 20 minutes wearing the warm rice-filled socks. The goal would be to use mild heat to bring blood to your feet, including your toes. But at least Dr. Oz did warn viewers not to heat the socks up too much. Those without a microwave could heat the socks in their oven.
How hot does rice-in-sock poltice have to be to make third-degree burns on skin?
Most people would probably assume that you'll let the socks cool until the heat is comfortable and warm, not burning hot before you put the folkloric home remedy near your feet. But unless it was clearly spelled out how hot the socks and rice would get in a microwave, not everybody can be assumed to be aware of the temperature of the rice or sock. Most people would test a heated object first. But when it comes to rice inside of a sock, it's hard to estimate the temperature or the consequences, especially if the feeling in your feet isn't sensitive at first.
Whatever the reason, getting third degree burns is serious, especially if you fall asleep with a heating pad, heated rice in socks, or even a hot water bottle against your skin. Burning also happens if you're awake but aren't feeling enough sensation from lack of circulation. Whatever the reason, it remains to be decided as the lawsuit progresses. It should teach people a lesson not to tell anyone to heat anything up and put it against the skin, as some people will burn from anything warmed up and placed against the skin.
In the lawsuit filed, the person suing is over age 75: Would aging skin burn quicker?
If you're a senior, never get into a situation where you can slip into sleep with something warm or hot near your skin, whether it's a heating pad, electric blanket, hot water bottle, heated rice in a sock or pillow, or anything that sustains heat against your skin. Perhaps a better home remedy would be a warm shower, but then again, there's always the danger of a fall.
So if anyone fell carrying out home remedy advice, and was injured, there's one more reason to file a lawsuit against the doctor who suggested, not prescribed a home remedy or any other treatment. On the other hand, if a doctor or anyone else referred a viewer to research published in a peer-reviewed medical journal on the subject, that's just offering information for educational and research purposes, not giving advice or prescribing a folkloric recipe.
The danger of being sued for suggesting folkloric home remedies used for centuries
The point of the case is what you do and how you do it often is at your own risk when it comes to folkloric remedies that people used globally for centuries, such as warming an area of the body to bring blood to the skin. Would Dr. Oz be sued for telling people to warm their feet with rice in a sock if Dr. Oz talked as an anthropologist giving information about folkloric home remedies people used in centuries when there were no doctors--such as what shamans used to increase circulation without mentioning prescription medicines?
Would Dr. Oz be sued if he were an explorer, shaman, or medicine man living in the Amazon who displayed his ancient remedies as educational information or research in archaeology or demonstrated in documentary videos? Few faith healers, for example, are sued for giving information.
Or if Dr. Oz lived well below the poverty line and was recalling an old family remedy, would he be sued for offering history of folkloric medicine reviews? Probably not, since all he'd be doing is reporting what others did when there were no other remedies available historically.
Whatever the issue in a court of law, the result is a senior citizen with third degree burns from information seen on a home remedy mentioned on a TV health-related talk show is suing Dr. Oz. Apparently, if the lawsuit goes through the usual processes, justice will decide the outcome. The moral of the news story is whether to take home remedy suggestions as information about traditional, historic ways of improving circulation from the outside and being careful around heated objects of any type, even a hot water bottle or a warm poltice.