Monday, January 14, 2008

Too Rad

Radiation medicine sucks: CT scans are killing us! We're an over-medicated lot.

I think this bit neatly sums up a lot of what's wrong with health care in the USA:
"Some say part of the blame lies with physicians who have financial interests in imaging facilities. "There is statistical evidence that indicates that more scans are ordered when a physician has a financial interest than when he doesn't," said Moore.

Defensive medicine also plays a role, with some doctors ordering the tests to stave off accusations that they withheld the most cutting-edge technology from their patients.

In other cases, overuse results from worried patients and from parents demanding CT scans that may not be needed. "

So we have:
1) Doctors increasing income by ordering more care
2) Doctors lowering lawsuit risk by ordering more care
3) Patients demanding care they don't need

Resulting in: more Americans being killed by their healthcare providers (see graph). It sounds utterly cynical, until we change those three things, maybe people should get less care than they do.

I know my grandmother was more or less sent on a path to death by her doctor, who misdiagnosed her broken rib as a heart condition and gave her more pills to take- that sent her on a downward spiral. Ironically, to my argument, perhaps an x-ray would have done some good there, as she didn't have that much time left to develop a cancer.

Overall though, people need to be a little less optimistic about medicine and doctors. Those bright colored commercials for prescription drugs really do make people think there's a magical cure out there for everything. Even diseases that might not exist, like fibromylagia. It reminds me of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is a fancy way of saying your stomach hurts and you have constipation or the opposite, and your doctor doesn't know why. Except, in fibromylagia, all of you hurts, and your doctor doesn't know why. It sounds very very similar to arthritis to me- except that the (mainly) women that get it fight the arthritis diagnosis because they don't want to feel old. Of course, now Pfizer is marketing a painkiller called "Lyrica" (sounds like the name of a girly folk music concert?) to treat it. It doesn't actually cure anything (reminds me of the old Chris Rock bit on AIDS) it just alleviates a symptom.

And please don't get me started on the "Restless Leg Syndrome".

I'm 34 and I'm already achy- it ain't f-ing fibromylagia- I'm just getting old. Get used to it, ladies. It doesn't get any better.

And just because you name a symptom- it doesn't make it a disease. For example- depression is the symptom, serotonin deficit is a cause. We can't have people walking the streets saying they have headachitis. It just doesn't make any sense.

Anyway- that's phase one of my health plan- educate the people of the old USA so they aren't so overconfident in their medical science. That should save enough money to fund phase two...