Cape Town – It is the duty of a doctor to educate his patient, and this can’t be done via social media, the disciplinary hearing against Professor Tim Noakes heard on Tuesday.
"Doctors cannot give expert advice without consultation," psychiatrist and part-time bioethicist Professor Willie Pienaar testified.
"The mother and child may have suffered, but luckily they didn’t because she didn’t take the advice.
"I am not happy that he has really considered the health of his patients."
Noakes - whose book The Real Meal Revolution promotes a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) lifestyle - was called before the the Health Professions Council of SA after a complaint was lodged by the former president of the Association for Dietetics in SA, Claire Julsing-Strydom.
The complaint centred on a tweet from Noakes to a mother who asked what foods she should feed her baby.
Noakes advised the mother to wean her child onto LCHF foods, which he described as real foods.
The tweet read: "Baby doesn't eat the dairy and cauliflower. Just very healthy high fat breast milk. Key is to ween [sic] baby onto LCHF."
Pienaar said Noakes had the opportunity to refer the mother to a general practitioner.
"He gave expert advice without consultation. He didn’t ask the age or health status of the baby," Pienaar said.
"My main concern is that he gave specialist advice [via social media]. That cannot be good practice in our profession."
Consultation was key to giving the correct diagnosis, he argued.
"I can’t comment on the science, but I am deeply concerned about the doctor-patient relationship in the long run if we give expert advice without [it]."
The hearing continues.