Unnecessary (Even Harmful) Medications and Procedures

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I’ve collected a series of articles that highlight the problems with our healthcare. I start with one entitled “If You Feel OK, Maybe You are OK.” From the NY Times 2/28/12. The crux of H. Gilbert Welch’s Op-Ed piece is that “the fastest way to get heart disease, autism, glaucoma, diabetes, vascular problems, osteoporosis or cancer … is to be screened for it. In other words the problem is over diagnosis and over treatment.” I fully agree. Welch points out that the health care industry is to blame. Screening makes a lot of money for pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and doctors. And often the results yield a false positive and unnecessary treatment is undertaken. This is not only harmful to the patient but very costly for the health care system. Gilbert Welch wrote an earlier essay for the Times (1/07) on the same topic.
Somewhere in my reading it was suggested that doctors might concern themselves with keeping patients healthy by encouraging better diets, exercise programs, mental stimulation and in general change our life styles.

Did you know that Aricept 23 was approved recently despite potentially harmful side effects. Trials of the larger dose, 23 milligrams (originally 5-10 milligrams) led to substantially more nausea and vomiting, potentially dangerous side effects for elderly patients struggling with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. “It doesn’t have much benefit, but does substantially more harm” states a journal review. Public Citizen’s Health Research Group last year asked the FDA to remove the drug from the market. They have not.

And finally, “No Extra Benefits Are Seen in Stents for Coronary Artery Disease.” NYT 2/28/12. The procedure, outside of an emergency is not known to be lifesaving or prevent heart attacks.” So why do it? In many hospitals the cardiac service line generates 40 % of the total hospital revenue,so there is incredible pressure to do more
procedures.

More to come at a later date.
Stay health my friend. Become very knowledgeable about your physical condition so that you can be a better consumer of available health care (or not.)

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