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Preventative Medicine

Posted Nov 16 2009 12:00am

The name seems to imply that through it’s utilization people will not get sick, or fewer will at least.  The current health care debate emphasized preventative care as a money saver.  This has been found to be false by many groups at least in it’s current form.

The problem is that it’s not real prevention.  There are ideally 2 parts to preventative medicine, prevention and early detection.  Though vaccines are great and nearly eradicated some horrible diseases, many vaccines are not worth the effort and some have caused more problems than they prevented.  Other than vaccination most of preventative medicine focuses on early detection with things such as mammograms and cholesterol screening.

We just had our 4th child and put our oldest 2 in a new school so, recently were faced with the less than attractive side of preventative care.  We were bullied at the birth of our daughter to get get many standard procedures.  One that sticks out is getting antibiotics in our daughters eyes “to prevent blindness.”  I know the risks (yes chiropractors have that training too).  Neither my wife nor I have any STD and are monogamous.  Still the hospital staff attempted to make me doubt my wife by saying “you never know…”  followed by, do you really want to risk your child’s eyesight.  It was the same for all 4 of our children at 3 separate hospitals.  There are always risks to using any medication and there was no benefit to my child and certainly none to my marriage.

Many schools now require the chickenpox vaccination.  This is a mild disease, and has an extremely low mortality rate, less than the common flu.  Because so many are immunized now there is less exposure to the disease which may cause people to loose immunity and lead to more cases of shingles if exposed later in life.  The vaccine can also cause seizures in children.  I don’t think the risk here outweighs the benefit, but it’s now being mandated in order to attend public school.  Often preventative treatments expose many thousands to unnecessary risks in order to prevent one case.  In every procedure a patient should be told the risk and benefits, but if the risks don’t outweigh the benefit then the treatment shouldn’t even be presented.  The scary theme I see here is the coercion being used to advance these treatments.

Then there is the early detection.  Many studies have found that early detection projects have actually caused more harm financially, emotionally, or even physically.  Recently another study came out showing that mammograms in your 40s don’t reduce deaths by a significant amount, and cause unnecessary biopsies, surgeries, and psychological trauma by finding false positives in almost half of patients.  Those extra procedures cost more, for no benefit what so ever, to the patient.  Despite these studies very few agencies or doctors will change their recommendations on mammograms.

If insurance companies and doctors were serious about preventative care then your health plan might cover your annual gym membership monthly massages and improved beds.  Doctors would meet with you every few months in order to recommend actions that would keep you performing at your best and improve your immune system.  That kind of prevention would save money, and save lives.

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