CAN OUR DYSFUNCTIONAL NATIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM BE CHANGED?
Dr. Milton Packer is no slouch. And although I wouldn’t quite call him Doogie Howser; after getting his undergrad degree from Penn State, he received his MD degree from Jefferson Medical College back in 1973 —- when he was (gulp) 22 years old. Since that time his career reads like a Who’s Who list of elite facilities and research projects (he’s a cardiologist).
After spending years at the University of Texas, he currently works as a “Distinguished Scholar” at Baylor’s Cardiovascular Science facility. He also happens to write a blog for Medpage Today called Revolution & Revelation. I bring all of this up to tell you about the post he put up yesterday —- Perverse Incentives: Do You See What I See? Milton Packer Identifies A Primary Reason for Skyrocketing Healthcare Costs.
The gist of Packer’s article is that due to his poor vision and ongoing eye problems, he went to get his eyes checked by an ophthalmologist, who essentially tried to up-sell him (hard-sell might be a more accurate term) on cataract surgery. He didn’t bite. It reminds me of 2005 when we were hit by a drunk (HERE), which resulted in my wife Amy breaking her arm.
After looking at the x-rays with the orthopedist (there was a long spiral fracture of her upper arm), I snapped a photo of the X-ray on the view box after he told her that she would need surgery. I emailed the pic to my bro — AN ER PHYSICIAN at a large Kansas hospital — and awaited his reply. His advice? He recommended she not have surgery for the arm — that there was absolutely no reason she needed it, and that the potential risks far outweighed any conceivable rewards of going under the knife.
How common is this practice? From the comment section of Packer’s post (125 and counting — mostly from those within the medical community), it seems (not surprisingly) extremely common. A commenter calling himself “I see it,” chimed in with his two cents.
All I can say is DUH!!! We won’t cure cancer as long as the treatments are $40,000 per treatment. We won’t prevent or cure heart disease as long as we are making billions on CABG procedures and stints and prescribing expensive medications whether we need them or not. We won’t reduce obesity as long as we get paid $25,000 for bariatric surgeries. We won’t and probably don’t want to cure much of anything as long as we get paid for the treatments. This goes deeper than what does insurance pay. Insurers are just as guilty.
They don’t pay for weight loss programs but they will pay for bariatric surgery. They put up roadblocks for actual health care in lieu of paying for sickness care. We are not in the business of keeping people healthy, we are in the business of managing illness. Nothing will change until we change the paradigm of what a health care provider does. We are not health care providers. We are illness managers. To call ourselves anything else is just not truthful to doctors or patients.
This doctor is spot on. And think about what he / she is saying in light of what Dr. Chandler Marrs (Ph.D in Experimental Psychology / Neuroendocrinology from the UNLV) said in the GUEST POST she did for me the other day on mitochondrial function / dysfunction.
“In other words, most of the diseases of modernity are linked directly to a sort of malnutrition, often a high calorie malnutrition, where diet is insufficient to supply the requisite nutrients to power mitochondrial machinery. Surely, I am not suggesting that diet causes disease? I am. Diet causes disease. As much as we don’t want to admit this to ourselves, much of what ails us is not due to some random constellation of genetic errors, it is due to what we chose to put into our bodies. The flip side, of course, is that diet treats disease. Indeed, unless and until dietary and nutrient issues are resolved, I would argue that no amount of pharmaceutical intervention will treat these conditions.”
And here is the rub. The average doctor is providing zero or near zero nutritional guidance to their patients about the effects that diet have on inflammation (HERE) — good and/or bad. I’m not being mean or bashing the profession (GORSKI and THIS PERSON would argue), I’m simply stating a fact — that the current trajectory of our healthcare system is completely and utterly UNSUSTAINABLE!
While I would strongly suggest you thumb through these (extremely) telling and often times candid comments, Medpage didn’t stop there. They gave us a picture-perfect example in an article published on the same day called Study: European Guidelines Don’t Drive Enough People to Statin Therapy: Recommendations from U.S., Canada, Britain Better for Primary Prevention. “European guidelines are not doing a good job of getting people onto statin therapy for primary prevention, researchers suggested.”
Despite the fact that the authors of this paper like the way statins are recommended here in America (we are the nation that’s still trying to have these drugs put into the water supply — HERE), it’s no secret that our nation’s MEDICAL AND PRESCRIPTION GUIDELINES have been hijacked by those who stand to profit the most. And yes, I’ve shown you previously that this is especially true of Statin Drugs (HERE). I guess as long as nothing ever changes, Peter, Paul, Mary, Baez, and Dylan can continue to sing When Will They Ever Learn? while the profession continues to pat each other on the backs while praising EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE.
And the cherry on top of this fun little sundae was completing the trifecta with yet another paper from Medpage (a journal that like many, continues to TILT LEFT) called When Burnout Comes Back: Clinician Burnout Isn’t Necessarily A One-Time Event. “Experts estimate that the cost to replace a burned-out physician who has left an organization ranges from $250,000 to $1 million — and that doesn’t account for losses due to lost productivity or medical mistakes.” There are two things we know unequivocally about this statement.
The first is that BURNOUT is rampant within the profession, and the second is that iatrogenesis and mistakes are far more common than let on to the public (HERE or HERE). This has a great deal to do with — as numerous commenters from the first article mentioned — with a phenomenon I have written about on my site any number of times — OVERDIAGNOSIS & OVERTREATMENT. Truth is, if the average citizen had a real grasp of what the research actually says about the tests and treatments so routinely ordered for them (HERE), they would be freaked out of their collective gourds.
So, you ask, if the medical community is not largely able to save me from myself, what am I supposed to do? That’s easy; you need to do what you should have been doing all along — taking matters into your own hands. Sure you can go out and get a COACH or a FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST — neither option is bad, and it actually might be necessary for you to get to where you want to be. But the bottom line is that with a little bit of study (HERE is the starting point), you can do most of this on your own.
And what’s really cool is that even though you may currently living like a JUNKY RIGHT NOW, a couple weeks in “DETOX REHAB” will start getting you back on track. When done correctly, the results frequently happen so fast that the process itself becomes self-motivating (HERE). So instead of a vicious cycle of downward spiraling, your good results actually feed themselves.
Because my profession is in many cases guilty as charged (every patient is the “worst ever” and all are put on incredibly long treatment schedules or “CHIROPRACTIC MAINTENANCE” plans), make sure to take a look at THIS SHORT POST to see what makes us so different. You see; my goal is always to empower you to help yourself — and see less of you instead of more (HERE). If this post resonated with you, be sure to like, share or follow on FACEBOOK.