Monday, July 29, 2013

More Sins

4. Doctors order too many tests and prescribe too many drugs.

Correct. We love tests, but so you. Most patients with a painful injury assume they need an X-ray, but they don’t.  Those with a high fever (“flu”), sore throat (“tonsillitis”), cough (“bronchitis”), or stuffiness (“sinus infection”) assume they need an antibiotic, but they usually don’t. Doctors hate to disappoint patients, so they lean over backwards to “do” something like order a test or prescribe.

5. Doctors order too few tests and prescribe too few drugs.

We can’t win.  Some clinic directors and insurance plans restrict the tests and drugs we can order. This infuriates doctors as well as patients, but the sad fact is that experts set up guidelines to discourage useless tests and wrong or unnecessarily expensive drugs. Guidelines sometimes work.

6.  Doctors ignore alternative and folk medical practices.

I notice enthusiasts treat folk medicine with respect, but no one advocates folk dentistry... It turns out that many alternative practices work but less dramatically than advocates claim.  Acupuncture definitely relieves pain. Unfortunately, its action is unpredictable and not always complete. Despite vivid reports, Chinese surgeons rarely use it for anesthesia. Chiropractic manipulation relieves some backaches for a limited time.

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