Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dirty Medicine

What should be treated medically?
Immediate gratification, no pain or discomfort, no changes, continue doing what I want.  These child-like attitudes are the American patient. No?
By satisfying these demands, medical and pharmaceutical industry has created a monster and gotten wealthy and powerful.
I am questioning the Need versus Convenience of many of our drugs and our procedures.  Let me explain. This may go to the heart of Health Care Reform. 
A simplified example would be if someone has reflux (and associated various symptoms).  Upon examination it is revealed a diet of excesses (coffee, alcohol, spicy, fried food, raw onions, etc.). 
Most physicians would counsel and provide a acid blocker and a flier to educate.  But, let's look more closely.  First, is the patient 'really' given an informed choice?  Is it emphasized the common sense "if something is hurting you.... Stop doing it!?"  What about the probabilities of an endoscopy ($2000+) or the Blue Pill ($3/ day forever)?  & Insurance will pay !x?*
Should this even be a medical treatment issue at all?  Drug companies love the 'spoiled brat attitude' because they can sell lots of drugs that cater to that.  They find ways to make it sound like the aspirin has been obsoleted and charge 10x or 20x the cost for not much added value.  Physicians do similar by replacing 'doing nothing- medically' (and advising lifestyle changes) with expensive procedures and drugs (maybe some self-protection too). And procedures and drugs then have their own risks and causal affects, deepening the problem.
So, I am introducing the term Value into the health care vision.  And, like the good ole days, it still appears to be the ethical responsibility of the physician to ensure the patient gets a good value and wise care.  Responsibility can be interpreted here, but in the light of our existing crippled health care system I am thinking this is a requirement.
Physicians must take the lead in educating us.  So, they must become educated.  They must know about the affects of food (& contaminants), environment, and lifestyle (& attitude) on the health of a whole body.  They must not be small minded about natural and alternative means of staying healthy.  For example, ever heard of fennel and anis seed, cumin?  These herbs can help heartburn and reflux.
Let's change the way we dish out medicine.  Push the Patient to take more responsibility for their lives by educating them.  Many common sense ideas on the Joe & Terry Graedon (Pharmacologist & Medical Anthropologist)     Show on NPR?  

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