Friday, September 30, 2011

Too much medicine?

Recent experiences with doctors made me wonder whether we are getting too much medical care by the way testing, treatment, follow ups ad so on ( I had some minor discomfort while chewing for a few months and one of the doctors I visit for arthritic problems immediately suspected temporal arteritis and after a battery of preliminary tests wanted me to go for an invasive biopsy near the jaw. I decided that I had enough and resisted for a few weeks ad later blood tests indicated that there was probably an error in the diagnosis. But the doubts linger on. Just as with cars, I decided not to go to doctors, particularly specialists unless the system seems near breakdown). The result is that I googled 'too much medicine' and found various reports like this:
Patients get too much medical care, doctors say:28% of doctors say they overtreat their patients
Too Much Medicine: A Doctor's Guide to Better and More Affordable Health Care
both about US but I have heard similar stories here in Australia and in India. A recent article of Atul Gawande Cowboys and Pit Crews suggests that the problem may be even more basic:
"The doctors of former generations lament what medicine has become. If they could start over, the surveys tell us, they wouldn’t choose the profession today. They recall a simpler past without insurance-company hassles, government regulations, malpractice litigation, not to mention nurses and doctors bearing tattoos and talking of wanting “balance” in their lives. These are not the cause of their unease, however. They are symptoms of a deeper condition—which is the reality that medicine’s complexity has exceeded our individual capabilities as doctors."

In the case of mental illnesses, problems may be even worse suggests Ethan Watters in Crazy like us: the globalization of the American psyche. Compare the third chapter on Schizophrenia in Zanzibar summarized here and the recent report in Neurosceptic Schizophrenia And The Developing World Revisited.

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