Medicine: How Much is Too Much?
Medicine, Medicine, Medicine
Today, there is a pill for everything. The United States is known for over-testing, over-diagnosing, and over-treating. According to Allen Frances, M.D., medical care of mild, almost nonexistent, problems does more harm than good.1 Adverse effects pile up and scare away patients who actually need the medicine.1 The question is: How much is too much?
Early screening and intervention has been fondly promoted by preventative medicine; however, is it really needed?1 Not in all cases. For example, long-term studies prove that testing for prostate cancer doesn’t actually save lives.1 Instead, it is an invasive intervention with painful complications.1 But, don’t worry, there’s a pill for that.
Disease definitions have taken a hit, as the threshold has been lowered and diseases that do not actually exist have been introduced.1 Doctors dreamed that early intervention would help to stop the development of many illnesses, including heart problems, hypertension, diabetes, and more.1 Instead, their interventions get there too early, misidentifying diseases and subjecting those who are not actually at risk to harmful, needless tests and treatments.1 Here, take this pill—you’ll feel better.
Do enough CT scans and you’ll find structural abnormalities in almost everyone.1 But, they’re incidental and don’t carry any meaning—instead, too much radiation and patients are at risk of getting dangerous cancers.1 (We have a ton of new pills to help treat that!)
Medicine and More Medicine
In fact, there’s a pill for everything, and a slew that will tag along to get rid of those pesky side effects of the original treatment that you don’t really need.1 I know those commercials on television are quite convincing, and you might have osteoarthritis or could use an additional Abilify every now and then when you’re feeling low, but don’t listen to them—listen to your doctor.1 Evidence-based medicine is the best route to take, and more is not always better.1
Unfortunately, the forces behind the benefit from the massive problem with over-diagnosis and over-treatment can cough up the hundreds of billions of dollars it takes to keep the ball rolling.1 But hey, Big Tobacco seemed impenetrable just 25 years ago, and here we are, bringing it down by hard facts and dedicated reformers.1 There is hope.
Good doctors are those who focus on the patient and their actual, true needs.1 They don’t go loading you up on meds, but use medicine to treat the true medical and psychiatric problems you present with.1 They try preventative measures that don’t require pharmacotherapy at first.1 They’ll give it to you when you really need it—and try the least amount possible.1
 Frances, A. (2013, September 18). Too Much Medicine Is Bad For Our Health. Psychiatric Times. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from www.psychiatrictimes.com/blogs/too-much-medicine-bad-our-health/page/0/1