The salient point, I think, from Crommunist’s post is that doctors, not patients, should be in charge of an individual’s health care. He writes:
When you’re sick, you have only one goal: getting better. Millions of years of evolution have hard-wired a strong survival instinct into all living species, and human beings are no exception. People suffering from disease and their families are willing to do just about anything for a chance at recovery, and logic plays nearly no role in the decision-making process.Riding shotgun with these thoughts is the fact that a sick individual now has access to an overwhelming wealth of medical information via the internet. While this information may be helpful as a reference, there’s no way for the individual to discern how it actually applies to their medical concerns as he lacks the knowledge an experienced, licensed clinician has to tie the information to a medical concern. So, what happens at the individual level is that a person may make a “self-diagnosis”, connecting gathered information in ways that a physician might not. This may lead the individual to pressure his or her doctor to prescribe tests or drugs that may not be necessary or appropriate. And indeed, the doctor may feel obligated to offer testing and drugs unsolicited in order to guard against possible malpractice suits.
The net effect of unnecessary testing is that medical care costs us far more than it should. For those of us fortunate enough to have health insurance, it’s easy to request or acquiesce to unnecessary medical services as we’re not paying full price. Overuse of these services, however, can only drive up the cost of insurance. So, we do actually pay a hidden cost for these services while making insurance more costly for those that can least afford it.
What we are faced with here is a systemic dysfunction. While individuals should be informed about their health, the physician should be directing care, not the individual. Additionally, we need to tackle other problems such as continuity of care, health records reform, malpractice protections, etc. This article from AARP suggests some sensible reform possibilities, along with steps a patient can take to make better decisions about their own health care.