Michael F. Vagg, MBBS


Torquay, Victoria, Australia

“In the arena of scientific debate, the self-correcting process of aggressive peer review
allows for a robust consensus of the truth to be arrived at,
compared to politics or economics.”

Mick Vagg is a physician and consultant in rehabilitation and pain medicine, based in Geelong, Australia. He currently practices as a Visiting Medical Officer to the Pain Management Unit at the Geelong Hospital, and the McKellar Centre for Rehabilitation, where he is responsible for Musculoskeletal and Amputation Rehabilitation streams. He holds an appointment as Clinical Senior Lecturer in Musculoskeletal Medicine at Deakin University School of Medicine and is also a clinical tutor for University of Melbourne Medical School. In addition, Dr Vagg has a small private practice at the Geelong Private Hospital.

Dr Vagg is a member of the Crikey Health and Medical Panel for the Croakey Health Blog which comments on health policy issues.  He is a watchdog regarding breaches in the Advertising Code of the Therapeutic Goods Authority of Australia by fraudulent or unscientific projects and services. As a contributor to The Conversation, Dr Vagg writes about various medical myths.

After graduating from Monash University in 1994, Vagg served as a uniformed Medical Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force for five years, becoming specialized in Expeditionary Combat Support operations. This included active service in Timor-Leste with InterFET and the United Nations, as well as major exercises. 

Upon transferring to the RAAF General Reserve in 2000, Dr Vagg pursued postgraduate training in the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, where he completed a Fellowship in 2004. He subsequently was awarded a Fellowship of the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.

Selected Publications:

  • Why pain management has become a real pain, for doctors and patients,” Croakey, 2009 Aug 12. Some patients now have affordable access to a treatment for neuropathic pain, but others do not. These inconsistencies are unfair and have created an ethical dilemma for doctors.
  • Chiropractors taking a pumelling in scientific stoush,” Croakey, 2009 Jul 14. “The [British Chiropractic Association] appears to be angling for a court win [against Simon Singh] similar to the decision of the USA Supreme Court against in the American Medical Association in 1990 where the AMA was forced to stop discouraging the public from using chiropractors.”
  • NICE misguidance,” British Medical Journal, 2009 Jun 1; letter (epub only). “It seems to me that this guideline [regarding the management of back pain] has been used as a propaganda vehicle to allow cherry-picked evidence to be enshrined as doctrine. This is an abuse of the guideline development process, as we should remember that medicine is not just evidence-based but science-based as well.

Selected Presentation:

Selected Podcasts:

  • Space medicine,” 365 Days of Astronomy, 2010 Jul 31. Exploring the unique challenges to medical science in keeping astronauts, cosmonauts and all other space travellers well enough to return in good shape from trips to space.
  • “Hippocrates meets Hipparchus,” Part 1 & Part 2, 365 Days of Astronomy, 2010 May 27. Astronomers are people, too, and they have had their share of dramatic medical problems. This podcast presents four case histories of famous astronomy figures namely Galileo, Enrico Fermi, Jeremiah Horrocks and George Ellery Hale, and examines whether popular understanding really tallies with our current medical knowledge.

In the News:

  • And yet more questions about Medicare Select,” by Melissa Sweet, Croakey, 2009 Sep 29. Dr Michael Vagg, a physician in Victoria, has been reading up on Medicare Select. And he’s found more questions than answers. “These procedures demand a clairvoyant ability to know when and how one is going to get sick and need emergency care if away from home or even in a different part of the city, in some cases.”
  • “What if back surgery was a drug?” British Medical Journal, 2008 Jun 26; 336(7659):1452. [DOI]
  • UK: no joint replacements for obese patients?Medscape Medical News, 2005 Dec 22. “Relief of pain is a universal human right. … [T]his is arbitrary punishment of people who have often put on weight as their OA [osteoarthritis] has increased their disability and restricted their ability to maintain appropriate activity levels.”

The Online Michael Vagg:

ANZCA logo
Crikey logo