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Are you getting too much healthcare?

Advances in medicine have continued to improve over the years. Modern diagnostic tools can detect diseases very early, allowing treatments to be initiated long before the disease takes root.

We can even predict the threat of certain diseases before they occur, and offer interventions to neutralize future occurrence. All very well, so long as the line between benefit and harm remains clear.

There are lots of things that get done in healthcare that don’t reliably benefit patients. It’s all very hard to see from your perspective as a health conscious patient. You may ask, what’s wrong with an extra test just to be safe? Surely, taking additional preventive pills cannot be a bad thing?

Likewise, you may find it hard to understand why undergoing surgery to remove an innocent lump may be more harmful than beneficial. A line must be drawn at some point between necessary healthcare, and too much healthcare.

Ever heard of executive medical exams? Welcome to the Utopian world of preventive medicine. Such medicals target healthy individuals, who undergo a full medical evaluation and a barrage of lab tests. A full body scan is thrown in for good measure, evaluating internal organs in details. All this in attempts to detect potential disease that may be starting to rear its head, now or at some point in the future. Inevitably, something almost always gets detected. Consequently, something always gets done, in complete disregard of the insignificance of some findings. Chances are findings following un-directed testing do not always correlate with future disease. The result is unwarranted interventions, costing time and money, and at worst sometimes resulting in grievous complications or even death.

Modern medicine is full of all sorts of specialists. There is a growing realization about over-referrals for simple ailments that can easily be dealt with by your primary physician. As soon as you get referred, you can expect to undergo more and more tests. Some tests will be repeated unnecessarily, in total disregard of having already been done. An additional prescription will come your way to complement whatever medicines you are already taking, or substitute them! It doesn’t end there, the specialist may recommend surgery that may not be necessary. You were doing just fine, but you end up going along with the surgery anyway. A 2011 survey in the US reported that 42% of primary care physicians believe that patients are getting more care than is necessary. It isn’t any different here.

You can choose to have just the necessary healthcare, and forget about over-medicalizing your health. Commercial medicine is rife with gimmicks that promise a disease-free state, but beware. You may just end up with huge bills, medical complications and in a poorer state of health. Instead, adopt a healthier lifestyle, and be as objective as you can be when seeking healthcare.

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