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Unnecessary Medical Treatment

Topics: Health & Wellness | Add A CommentBy admin | December 26, 2008

Maybe Doctors Should Just Stop Cutting It Out

One of the central reasons for my general distrust of contemporary American medicine has been a common-sense hunch that there’s a lot of unnecessary treatment and billing going on because of the fact that insurance companies are in fact essentially investment companies, and hospitals’ revenue is heavily dependent on insurance, which leads to an unhealthy business model (see this Independent Review report 64KB, PDF). Understanding how hospitals make money is no simple topic, but one can reasonably deduct that a non-vital procedure will be more likely to be recommended if the patient has insurance. I’ve had first-hand experience with this: I once had a severe laceration on my arm that ER staff thought may have nicked a tendon. After moving up the chain of authority to the plastic surgeon, they were fully convinced I needed surgery. That is, until the plastic surgeon was flipping through my paperwork and realized I didn’t have insurance (I was looking over his shoulder) and took another look. Suddenly he became convinced that a simple sling would suffice, since “sometimes these injuries almost do better healing on their own”. Although I have always assumed there were a lot of unnecessary procedures, I was surprised upon doing a little web searching to see just how prevalent this is. Depending on the source, figures range from a more alarmist suggestion that 60% of all surgeries are medically unjustified to a more conservative figure of 25%. Adding to this is the pharmaceutical industry’s almost homicidal drive to push drugs to market. This article, for instance, suggests that unneeded prescriptions cost the nation’s public and private health plans as much as $50 billion annually . And more specifically close to home for me, a Canadian study found that over 41% of prescriptions for NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) were unnecessary. I’ll have more on the topic of anti-inflammatory agents in an upcoming piece; I have a firm belief that a wide range of conditions encompassing joint pain, immune problems, and inflamed tissue all relate to some simple diet issues.