We like to think that doctors are selfless beings who choose their profession because they want to help others.
But do doctors always and only have their patient’s best interests at heart, or do other considerations sometimes come into play?
Do you really need a CT scan after falling on the ice . . . . or is someone trying to offset the huge cost of that equipment?
Is a prednisone shot the best first response to a case of hives . . . or should the doctor first ask if you’ve been eating far too many strawberries this spring?
Is that expensive test really necessary, or is the practice looking to pay for the cost of their fancy office remodel?
Doctors are human beings, and as such are influenced by many factors when making decisions and recommendations . . . including huge perks from drug companies and other financial considerations. If the public were aware of the actual lobbying and payoffs the big drug companies provide for doctors, there might be no trust left at all.
Also, remember, medicine is not a foolproof science . . . why do you think they call it the “practice” of medicine? Often, the medical community and the pharmaceutical industry are practicing on YOU. Consider all the drugs that come on the market, are widely prescribed, and are THEN discovered to have devastating side effects. Look at the negative effects from years of over-prescribed antibiotics, which has now created drug-resistant strains like the form of TB making headlines this summer.
So what’s a consumer to do?
• Ask Questions! -- First and foremost, don’t be overly passive and submissive. Question the doctor. Is this procedure, test, drug really necessary? What are the known side effects? What are some alternatives? Is there any danger in a wait-and-see attitude? Are there natural remedies that are known to work as well and have fewer if any side effects?
• Do Your Own Research – The Internet offers a wealth of information about every condition, disease, drug, test, procedure, etc. Become informed!
• Get A Second Opinion – Always a good idea, and especially so before any surgery, medical procedure or pharmaceutical drug regimen.
• Try Natural Remedies First – Before starting on drugs or going the surgical route, try diet, exercise, supplements, natural body work, etc. If they don’t work, you can always go for the more extreme solution later.
• Check Experience and Background – If your condition warrants a medical procedure or surgery, make sure you check your doctor’s background in the exact procedure he or she will be performing. Especially with newer procedures (like arthroscopic or laser surgeries) you don’t want to be your doctor’s guinea pig. Pick someone experienced!
The best advice when it comes to your health is to let go of the model of the doctor as an all-knowing God who cannot be questioned -- and become an informed, involved, active, investigative participant in any medical recommendations regarding your health.