It used to be that doctors were serious when they took the Hippocratic Oath, and they promised to “First, do no harm.” For some that may still be the case but it seems, that was a time before they handed over control of the health care industry to big pharma and big insurance. Those companies are much more focused on profits than they are on people. Also it was before the rise of what we now call defensive medicine.
Defensive medicine comes to us thanks to the veritable explosion of malpractice lawsuits.
So what we see now, especially in the news, is that many physicians nowadays could not care less about what is best for their patients. That is because even though they are supposed to be serving their patients and the patients are sourcing the money, the doctors get their marching orders from elsewhere. That other place is a combination of avaricious executives and litigation-fearing corporate attorneys. So now, doctors are paying much less attention to the sick and much more attention goes to figuring out ways to improve their bank account.
This isn’t just hearsay. There is overwhelming evidence of this development. It is seen most obviously in two areas. There is an ongoing trend towards more testing – or overtesting and also in anticipatory treatment. In many cases now, rather than waiting for symptoms to prove that intervention is needed, physicians often advocate early diagnosis, along with treatment. The theory is that getting in early will improve the prognosis.
Robert Aronowitz, M.D. opposes that view. In his book, Risky Medicine, Dr. Aronowitz says “overdiagnosis and overtreatment” have played a role in the “cost and quality crisis in American medicine.”
Dr. Aronowitz says the problem is that “risk factors and early signs of disorders are being treated as aggressively as if they were full-blown diseases, without regard to the patients’ quality of life and financial best interests.”
This book is required reading for all skeptics, especially those wondering how the practice of medicine evolved from simply treating symptoms and curing diseases to playing on fears and subjecting patients to a never-ending expensive, invasive and often unreliable tests.
Excerpt From the Cover of Risky Medicine
“Will ever-more sensitive tests for cancer lead to longer, better lives? Will anticipating and trying to prevent the future complications of chronic disease lead to better health? Not always… In fact, it often is hurting us.
Exploring the transformation of health care over the last several decades that has led doctors to become more attentive to treating risk than treating symptoms or curing disease, [this book] shows how many aspects of… clinical practice are now aimed at risk reduction…
This transformation has been driven in part by the pharmaceutical industry, which benefits by promoting its products to the larger percentage of the population at risk for a particular illness, rather than the smaller percentage who are actually affected by it…
Risky Medicine is a timely call for a skeptical response to medicine’s obsession with risk, as well as for higher standards of evidence for risk reducing interventions and a rebalancing of health care to restore an emphasis on the actual curing and caring for people suffering from disease.”
– Excerpted from the Bookjacket
Our Quest to Cure Fear and Uncertainty
by Dr. Robert Aronowitz, M.D.
University of Chicago Press
You can order a copy of Risky Medicine from Amazon