Medicine: it’s the one field where people will spend whatever it takes—whether it’s end of life care or cancer treatments. People fear death and pain, and will pay whatever they have (and in many cases what they do not have) to try to get it to go away.
So it would make sense that there are some procedures out there that are unnecessary, but that get performed anyway.
They’re not Sham Salesmen
There are those out there that are selling things that claim to cure everything—and they statistically don’t. However we trust doctors to give us cures—and sometimes their desire to help relieve suffering or the fact that treatments effect different people differently—we get unnecessary procedures.
A previous Pastor, and friend of mine, was diagnosed with intestinal cancer caused by the fact that he was a celiac and didn’t know it. He went through surgery and chemo, and moved one believing that he was cured.
A year later, the cancer returned, and doctors enrolled him in an experimental procedure. They didn’t tell him, but they didn’t expect him to last 6 months. The medicine worked—and we thank God. But is he the norm, or the exception? And how do you account for them?
If You Asked the Doctors…
Science says that there are many procedures that are unnecessary.
Doctors who want to eliminate unhelpful procedures have their scalpels aimed at several other surgeries. Brody nominates arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. A 2004 study showed that it is no more effective at restoring mobility and reducing pain than sham surgery. In other words, all the benefits reflect a placebo response on the part of patients, who think, “Docs in surgical scrubs, high-tech surgery, gleaming OR—this will certainly help me.” But orthopedic surgeons still do the surgeries, which cost about $6,000. [This Won’t Hurt a Bit – Newsweek]
So, what do you do? How do you go about figuring what is unnecessary and what is?