Choosing Medical Treatments Wisely
- Colonoscopy is often done too frequently- Unless you have an irregular test (polyps or other cancer risk factors), this test need only be done every 5 or even 10 years. This is a baseline test folks, not part of your “annual physical” and it is a very expensive test, running over $2,000 (U.S.) and requiring the use of anesthesia, which has other risks.
- Screening tests regardless of health condition- These ubiquitous “fishing” tests are often promoted by “special clinics” or at “shopping malls” and offer full body scans, which are unnecessary and not shown to improve health or extend life. Again, it is best to avoid the extra doses of radiation when you can. Yes, a full body scan may find something wrong with you, but this information won’t necessarily impede your health or hasten your death.
- Prescribing Opioids for chronic pain-In laypersons terms these drugs are known as Vicodin, OxyContin, or Percocet which are designed to work in the short term (following surgery) and over time they become less effective for pain relief. Also, one fourth of all patients who use these medications become addicted and they can cause death. Other side effects include world class constipation, nausea, confusion, mental disturbance, and if that isn’t enough, liver damage if you take enough of the stuff.
- Medical tests administered at the end stages of life-For example after your cancer has spread to Stage V, it is wise to start asking quality of life questions, such as: Will the treatment help you live longer or What are the side Affects and Risks? Ask about palliative care, which does improve your life. These same questions can and should be asked by all octogenarians. In other words, how is the test or treatment going to improve your life?
- Ubiquitous testing for urinary tract infections- This is a test frequently given when no symptoms exist and results in an over use of antibiotics. Taking antibiotics kills friendly bacteria which your body needs to fight infections and over use causes super bugs which are resistant to treatment.
And this is the healthpolicymaven signing off encouraging you to share this article with anyone whom may benefit. "healthpolicymaven" is a trademark of Roberta E. Winter, a graduate of the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Daniel Evans School of Public Affairs. This article in no way provides medical advice.