Friday, March 12, 2010

Defensive medicine may be offensive

This Associated Press article caught my eye today. It discusses the over-abundance of medical testing used as a form of disease prevention and opines whether or not such testing is really beneficial or just wasteful.

In a time when health care costs are out of control, we have to examine the real reason behind the inflated costs. We don’t spend too much on health care because we’re sick, we spend too much on healthcare because healthcare is overpriced and we have embraced the idea that in order to be truly healthy we have to be tested constantly for disease. We’ve been conditioned to believe that early detection is the key to our survival, that palliative medications will give us a longer life and incessant doctor visits will improve the quality of our lives.

Suddenly, this isn’t the case. Now the speculation is we are over-testing, over-medicating and maybe even over-worrying. I tend to agree – the old adage ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ holds some weight. Good health used to be measured by how little you needed medical care, now it’s measured by how often you go for health screenings, vaccinations and renewals of your prescriptions.

On the other hand, I do find it odd that now when health care costs are completely out of control, the worm turns toward encouraging people to use less healthcare. Is it really common sense finally taking over, or is it a subtle way to lower costs?

Do you believe in routine preventive health screenings or do you think we place too much emphasis on being tested for everything all the time? Sure people have survived for thousands of years without ever having mammograms or colonoscopies, but then again – people have been dying for thousands of years too. Are we really at the next stage of our evolution where constant medical care will keep us healthy and living longer, or are we beginning to devolve into a race that can’t survive unless we are fully medicated and irradiated at every turn of the calendar?

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