Posted on Aug 17, 2013

As a home remedy to help folks get to sleep, Dr. Oz advised television viewers on his NBC daytime show earlier this year to put rice in their socks, microwave them and then wear them to sleep. He called it the Knapsack Heated Rice Footsie. One viewer claims he followed those directions and sustained third-degree burns because he had a previous neuropathy that diminished feeling in his feet, according to CNN.

Frank Dietl, brother of famous former NYPD detective Bo Dietl, sued Dr. Oz earlier this year, claiming it was foreseeable that people with decreased sensitivity to heat would be watching the show, and that those people were prone to being burned by socks they couldn’t feel were too hot.

Last month the parties agreed to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims against NBC Studios, but the suit will continue against Dr. Oz, his show, his production company, Sony Pictures and Harpo Productions, Oprah Winfrey’s production company.

On the show, Dr. Oz advised viewers to just get the rice warm, not too hot. "When you do this and lie for about 20 minutes with those socks on in bed, the heat will divert blood to your feet..." Oz said during the taping. "When your feet get hot, guess what happens to your body. It gets cold. Your body will automatically adjust its core temperature and as it gets cooler, you're going to be able to sleep better because your body has to be cold in order to be sleepy." Dr. Oz suggested combining this act with some herbal tea. "If you can do this the right way, you're going to be thanking me for years to come," he said.

But Mr. Dietl is not thanking Dr. Oz. His lawsuit alleged that Dr. Oz neglected his "duty and obligation to warn viewing audience as to the possible effects of following the advice offered" and "to warn against certain effects of said medical advice as to those persons suffering from other additional medical conditions."

Whether it was foreseeable to Dr. Oz that a viewer with neuropathy would try this without carefully testing the temperature of the socks is up for debate by the jury, if it gets that far.

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Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer