Paul’s Perambulations

March 15, 2012

Is the problem not enough medicine or too much medicine?

Filed under: Education,humor,Politics — admin @ 12:18 pm

The NYTimes identified overdiagnosis as a flaw in our health care. We don’t usually think about this issue, but the easiest medical response to any general complaint (I’m tired, achy, run down or the like) is to run a test (profit-making) and follow a standard procedure (profit-making)  in response to test results. People are always looking for ways to make the sale, and since no one has perfect health, it’s an easy sell.  First generate fear with some “abnormal” or “borderline” results and then heroically provide an answer — typically a best-selling wildly-overpriced pill. Cost — don’t worry, we’ll find something paid for by your insurance. And what if you don’t have insurance? Well, that’s your fault.  Pay the money you’ve been saving instead of buying insurance.

JUST SAY NO. If I’m cut or broken, they get a chance to patch me up, but that’s it. My recent Facebook post on this article was the following:   I remember an occasion as a child when I witnessed a curmudgeonly old family friend saying he avoided doctors and pills. He grew his own vegetables, ran the Boston marathon annually, and lived into his 90’s. It seemed amusing then. Now I sort of idolize him. I could say something very similar about my grandfather, except unfortunately he didn’t live in Boston, but fortunately he was still chasing the girls (to the embarrassment of my aunts) into his 90’s. Maybe that’s what did him in prematurely (he didn’t make it to 100), but that’s okay under those circumstances.

3 Comments »

  1. The following is my published Comment on a NYTimes article describing overuse of statins and their frequent side effects: Some years ago, at a rare visit to my doctor, he tested me and noted that I was 230 and had a prior reading of around 210 from years previous. He suggested lipitor. I declined, although he suggested that my scores were systematically increasing. We agreed to test later. Something came to mind — the night before I had been out with friends and gone off my diet just a couple of hours before 9pm (the “no eat” magic start hour prior testing the next day) — I ate half a cheese pizza and other junk I normally avoid. Knowledgeable medical acquaintances said that that could well be the explanation, and I was back to 210 (with no other changes in my lifestyle) when next tested. This may be something to keep in mind when interpreting scores.

    See http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/do-statins-make-it-tough-to-exercise/?comments#comments

    Comment by admin — March 19, 2012 @ 8:09 am

  2. (In response to a Comment from a friend regarding his illness) Things can become very complex in today’s changing world. I am blessed (literally — I did nothing to deserve it and can’t explain it but can only be grateful) with generally good health. I have had a couple of periods of very bad pain and a couple of scary times — something to make me all the more grateful and also sympathetic with what others must be going through. Individual cases vary greatly, and sometimes there appear to be no good options.

    BigPharma cannot be trusted, although many doctors are doing their best under very challenging circumstances. Nonetheless, I have had a couple of times of misinformation coming from well-respected and well-educated doctors. One specialist told me, on an occasion years ago when my hip was hurting, that I would soon be a candidate for hip replacement and that meanwhile I should not walk more than a mile at a time. HOW CAN MODERN MEDICINE GET IT SO WRONG! WHAT UTTER LUNACY DO THEY PRACTICE? It does make me want to avoid them as much as possible. I believe that our environment/culture is a major factor in all this, in ways that we don’t now know or understand (e.g. — how can we really have a good diet these days — it can be very difficult to know what to do).

    Comment by admin — March 20, 2012 @ 8:23 am

  3. How can one resist the errors and excesses of modern medical treatment?

    We must insist on taking responsibility for ourselves. I am starting to think that the only way this can be done successfully and to resist the strong (and often well-meaning) pressures of the medical establishment, is to take the following position: “As a matter of religious principle, I am conscientiously opposed to medication in all but the most serious of conditions. To refuse a treatment is my first amendment right.” That should at least get some attention and lead to consideration of my (patient) wishes in all this.

    They might think I belong to a religious cult (maybe I can just say I’m a Quaker — that’s often enough to befuddle people), but I can live with that if this is an effective approach. Over and over I hear how difficult it can be to stand up to established medical practice. My Quaker response will be “I need to call a Clearness Committee first.”

    Comment by admin — April 20, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

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