What is Medical Overtreatment?
Modern medicine is a gift. I, Andy Lazris, a fully qualified doctor, stand by that statement. The medical community has been blessed with microbiological research, laparoscopic surgery, and antibiotics. These gifts have been shared with the masses, and with a healthy dose of study and science, many of us have majorly improved patient prognoses.
While it would be lovely to leave it at that, the turn of the century and, perhaps, too much control over life has brought out the zealots in many of us. Check out my book, Curing Medicare. If you're looking to buy affordable non fiction books to read, this one is informative and honest.
I've drawn on all my personal experiences as a doctor and what I've seen happening right before my eyes in the last decade. The next big thing in science and medical advancement seems to consist of doctors fully under the control of Medicare falling over themselves to poke, prod, and prescribe to geriatric patients who've yet to so much as a hiccup.
What Is Medicare?
For those out of the loop, Medicare is health insurance that applies to Americans over sixty-five. In my experience, it's a systemic breach of the Hippocratic Oath that's something out of a dystopian medical fiction book.
I concede that there are cases in healthcare where one needs to do everything one can to keep the patient breathing, but the problem with Medicare is that it's not a person. Any physician will tell you that the human body is full of mysteries that we have yet to unearth and possibly never will fully. The first rule of science is to beware of the variables and the undefined ones.
So why are we, having spent years in medical school, and then years (in my case twenty-five years) learning to treat our patients with compassion, being puppeteered by an ancient set of rules? Aging is not a disease that we, as humans, should seek to cure. The point of appreciating the complexity of biology and its many facets is to accept our limits.
When Treatments Affect Patients Negatively
So what if we don't accept our limits? What if we continue to medicate and test until we've exhausted all the options? See, the overtreatment issue might be prevalent in Medicare, but it's a problem that's been embedded into the healthcare system for a long time.
If you buy healthcare reform books online, you'll get a better idea of how the practice of saving lives has slowly started to border on preserving lives. Geriatric or not, your medical treatment might be much more invasive than you think. As I've outlined in A Fork in the Road at Hopkins, available on my nonfiction book online store, it's maybe not as cutting edge either.
Here are a few of how patients can ultimately lose out:
Decisions Aren't Made In Their Best Interests
It may seem odd. Doctors have no reason to make decisions that might put a patient in danger, right? Wrong. Doctors are scientists, and scientists love to learn. The best way to learn is through practical experience. Shocking, perhaps, but the fact can be stranger and more stirring than fiction. It's been admitted by medical professionals, OBs, for example, that they feel torn between choosing the easy way out and the surgical, even if the former is better for the patient.
New doctors seek complicated patients, difficult surgeries, and high stakes, thinking this is what will build the grit they need to practice medicine. I've always found that caring for your patients and taking heed of their needs helps you find your mettle within yourself.
Not every American has health insurance. Therefore, with excessive care, you ultimately wind up with a hefty bill and a patient who isn't necessarily doing better. Of course, you can't put a price on good health, but that phrase doesn't mean much when good health sends families into debt.
Patients Lose Hope
False promises are always bad, but false hope from a doctor is even worse. Our job as doctors is not to protect our patients' feelings or keep a positive outlook. I'd love nothing more than to calm my patients and tell them that they'd be fine. However, we are doctors. When entrusted with lives, we have to operate with full transparency. It's the job.
If a patient's odds for survival aren't high, then they've come to you to learn about it and prepare them. When hospitals paint pictures of experimental treatments and unlikely outcomes, it can lead patients to lose faith in medicine. Losing hope can take a toll on mental and physical health.
A Doctor's Code Vs. Conscience
Every doctor has their own personal code that's dictated by their conscience, and then they have a code that's dictated by the stipulations of healthcare reforms. If you're a fan of medical fiction books, then you might know that grappling with these two is one of the hardest parts of practicing medicine. That's precisely why these codes exist. As human beings, decisions of life and death and the ability to choose between the two sometimes aren't something that was meant to be done by humans.
However, humanity has come far, and now we can resurrect people with simple CPR. However, if you shop for healthcare system-related books, you'll find that the community's relationship with these rules has changed a lot. Originally established to regulate patient security, they now endanger it by putting doctors at constant risk of malpractice accusations.
With advanced capability comes advanced accountability. Today, if a patient passes away, the doctor in charge wants to be able to tell the family that they did everything they could to save their life. If not, the family may have grounds to file a lawsuit which could cost the medical professionals involved their entire careers.
A part of being inducted into medicine is learning the value and importance of sound judgment. At a moment's notice, we need to make a full assessment of the situation, create a plan, and implement it. It's what we're trained for.
The advantage of seeing a skilled and practiced doctor is not that they necessarily know more medical techniques; it's that they'll act with experience. Nobody wants their medical plan created by someone who's already anxious about what could go wrong.
The Hippocratic Oath, taken by all doctors who practice in the US, plainly states, "to the best of my judgment and ability". Judgment is the keyword.
Doctors might be able to perform miracles, but they do so by their better judgment. If they're trusted to perform the act, they should also be trusted to know when to stop.
I've found that it's become increasingly harder to follow my conscience, particularly because I work with geriatric patients. Many who come to me are experiencing chronological conditions and terminal illnesses, and some have understood and accepted where they are in life.
Many people refuse end-of-life care specifically due to this, but sometimes, some patients want desperately to fight back against illness and beat the odds. In these cases, it's acceptable to treat with a heavy hand. It's the patient's will, and since it is treated, it doesn't fall under the category of doing harm. Furthermore, plenty of research supports that a willing mindset is a big contributor to recovery.
However, when there are patients who prefer to enjoy their grandchildren and spend time doing what they love, placing them in the hospital is unnecessary and wasteful of their precious time.
I greatly respect medicine and value the options it provides to the ailing, but I also value my judgment. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your patient is to listen to what they want out of their care.
My devotion to my patients has led me to pen all of this in books, blogs, and even songs. My 3D books have companion soundtracks designed to make them a holistic experience. If you'd like to get a sense of what it's like to work in the medical field today, check out my fiction and non fiction online bookstore.
The Adventures of Yadel the Dreidel and Three Brothers from Virginia are highly acclaimed, and The Geriatrics Vengeance Club is my homage to my elderly patients as thanks for the wisdom that they've always shared with me. If you'd like to hear more patent Andy Lazris insights, click here for my podcast, Straight Talking Doc Unhinged. In my work, I'm honest with my readers and my audience.