An article in yesterday’s New York Times entitled “Doctor Panels Recommend Fewer Tests for Patients” by Roni Caryn Rabin appears to be a step in the right direction, albeit a controversial one. You can read the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/04/health/doctor-panels-urge-fewer-routine-tests.html.
Who, among us, doesn’t know someone who went to a doctor to check on one medical issue and came out with a litany of tests allegedly needed for something else entirely? Frequently, these tests examine issues that do not negatively impact a person’s health – they turn up things like cysts that are common-place and completely benign, but which must be poked and prodded to confirm their innocence; and then the medical bills pour in.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that in a small number of cases, these tests save lives and can identify disease that would likely not have otherwise surfaced until the disease had progressed.
There seems to be a general consensus on a rational level that the US medical system, or at least how it is financed, is broken. The Supreme Court issues of this past week notwithstanding, there will continue to be a pressing need to discuss how to contain costs and how to keep healthcare from further plunging the US economy into further debt.
But these issues are also deeply personal, which is what makes them so complex.
Questions for Discussion: What do you think about the new push to reduce the number of tests and medical procedures? Have you had an experience where you have been subjected to endless, needless tests which turned out to be of no benefit to your health at all? Have you had tests or procedures that actually ended up harming your health in the long-run? Have you been one of the lucky few who may have been saved by one of these tests of procedures? We all know that medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the US; where does that fit into this discussion? And how can we help quiet the political rhetoric surrounding this deeply personal, but financially consequential issue to enable politicans and health experts to look for realistic and meaningful solutions to these issues?
Please share your thoughts! And thank you for reading.