We spend a large fraction of our income on medical care, either directly or as premiums on insurance. My question in this post is whether we are getting value for our money and what can we do to become better consumers of medical care.
This is triggered by a recent book called Medical Nihilism by Jacob Stegenga. As implied by the title, the book takes a contrary in view on the matter. See this review of the book by John Horgan, a columnist at Scientific American: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/is-medicine-overrated/
The book shows how most medical care is ineffective and indeed causes more harm than good. Even though the medical establishment says they support evidence based medicine, the book shows that most research showing the effectiveness of medicines and treatments is severely flawed and biased.
Medical care can be highly dangerous. Horgan cites the following study that concludes that there are between 210,000 and 400,000 PREVENTABLE deaths per year in hospitals.
Of course there are areas where modern medicine does some good. Dr. Andrew Weil on p. 225-226 of his book “Spontaneous Healing” gives the following list of areas where you should use medicine and areas where it is ineffective.
diagnose and treat medical and surgical emergencies
treat acute (short term) bacterial infections with anti-biotics
treat some parisitic and fungal infections
prevent infectious diseases with immunizations
diagnose complex medical problems
replace damaged hips and knees
cosmetic and reconstructive surgery
diagnose and treat hormonal deficiencies
treat viral infections
cure most chronic (long term) degenerative diseases
effectively manage most kinds of mental illness
cure most forms of allergy or autoimmune disease
effectively manage psychosomatic illnesses
cure most forms of cancer
I would add to his list that medicine can treat some cancers like childhood blood cancers.
My bottom line is to be careful in my use of medical care and to take a jaundiced eye at any treatment and medicine that I am offered