I promised in a previously published article where I was attacking dentists fordoing unnecessary oral exams and x-rays that I would next go after physiciansfor some similar transgressions. There are a few places where similar practicesare employed by some in the medical profession where diagnostic tests areordered that aren't needed medically but which provide cash flow to thedoctor/hospital anyhow.
As the nation stuggles with rising health care costs and pharmacy gouging thereare still some places where patients can look out for themselves. There is noquestion that Government has to curb the general practice of healthcare pricegouging and hopefully they'll see to that sooner than later. If you're interested,you may look back on some of my previous articles on how health care pricingand insurance reimbursement plays out in our system. As I explained there, thesystem runs counter to almost any theory of economics and will not stand the testof time. I have actually sent a letter explaining how this can be solved to the taskforce set up by Warren Buffet, Jamie Diamond and Jeff Bezos (never got a replythough).
At the patient level, however, you need to be armed with some basic medicalinformation to help protect yourself. You do not need a general physicalexamination every year nor do you need a yearly; chest x-ray, blood work up orany kind of heart scanning or EKG and lung - respiratory testing. The above istrue in general but clearly not for someone who actually suffers from a disorderof one of those systems or is known to possibly be prone to such a disorder basedon solid medical and biological principles. Ask yourselves, those of you whohave been admitted to a hospital, why it is that you automatically get all of theseprocedures before you're actually evaluated or even without any evaluationupon admission. How can the hospitalknow you needed a test if you haven't yetbeen clinically evaluated? How does this make any sense other than coming tothe conclusion that it is primarily for monetary gain.
The same thinking carries through for outpatient office visits to the doctor. Ingeneral, a well trianed doctor should be able to handle the vast majority ofproblems by taking a wellinformed and directed history along with doing aphysical examination. The medical field these days has a lot of nursepractitioners and physician's assistants caring for patients. These assistants donot have the same leveland depth of training as doctors do and should never be
allowed to determine what tests a patient needs or doesn't need on their ownwithout a doctor.
I realize that there in many situations that are urgent or where a patient is notconscious that over testing is going to be done. We can't solve everything I guess.But the idea of this article is simply to alert medical laymen that you have a rightto speak up and politely defend your own body. After all, many people can beinjured by tests alone. Tests are not innocuous and often times carry the risk ofphysical harm on top of their extra expense. You should always consider what isbeing done to you. You should not be afraid to politely ask the doctor whysomething is being done, why it's needed, whether something safer or evencheaper could be considered first and to otherwise fully explain what is going on.Sometimes just waiting a short time may allow the problem to resolve on its own.This doesn't always happen but if it's not considered it won't be done.
In general, the need for testing isn't so emergent that one can't wait a short timeto see if things start to cool down. I can't tell you how often rushing into medicaltesting can cause a problem that would have never happened if a little patiencewas employed. I can't tell you also how many people get injured by medicalmalpractice in the process of being worked up for something they probably couldhave avoided altogether in the first place. Most people are capable of exercisingsome discretion with respect to their own body. People know themselves. Youdon't have to become completely helpless and stupid because you get sick. Afterall, your brain should still be working. If something is more serious you'llprobably know it yourself or a good doctor will be able to make you understandif you don't. But know this, it's much better to avoid medical injury than to treatit.