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Medical Overtreatment Needs to Change – But Will It?

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There is much in the news about medical over diagnoses and overtreatment, but where is this information going to lead us? Elizabeth Loder, BMJ research editor, reported that the general consensus at an Avoiding Avoidable Care conference was, “US healthcare costs are unsustainable and a large amount of money is being wasted on unnecessary treatment.” I find it heartening that one of the goals of this conference was to figure out what is behind unnecessary health care treatments.

Along with this goal, the participants found that defensive medicine, inappropriate patient expectations, and fee-for-service payments had to be addressed in order to change the nature of an unrealistic and excessive-treatment healthcare system. They identified four categories to focus on:

–Affordability (Financially sustainable)

–Accountability (Patient ownership)

–Partnerships (Medical, patient, spiritual)

–Expectations (reasonable)

It seems to me that there is an underlying optimistic desire for change, despite some negative comments at the conference concerning the need for follow-through. This ties in really well with the recommendations in another article in American Medical News that I read about over-prescribing of drugs. Dr.Fugh-Berman, director of PharmedOut stated, “We really need to bring more rationality to prescribing.”

This rationality works hand in hand with the idea of accountability, which has been one of my greatest concerns. I feel that everyone should take ownership of his or her health. For me, I take control of my health by starting with prayer.

Deep prayer has enabled me to be accountable for much more than my body; it has helped with financial, intellectual, emotional, and educational issues. And my experience has been that health is best accomplished when all aspects of my life are kept in balance. I find that this is easier when I start from a spiritual perspective that balance is God-given, not something I have to engineer.

The idea of taking control of your body and not succumbing to overtreatment and over diagnosis is really changing the way many view healthcare. Professor H. G. Welch wrapped up what he has found in medical overtreatment/diagnosis by saying, “For years now, people have been encouraged to look to medical care as the way to make them healthy. But that’s your job — you can’t contract that out. Doctors might be able to help, but so might an author of a good cookbook, a personal trainer, a cleric, or a good friend. We would all be better off if the medical system got a little closer to its original mission of helping sick patients, and let the healthy be.”

But for me, “taking control” means more than personal accountability; it’s tied to my God-given nature.

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About Don Ingwerson

Previously in the education sector as Superintendent of Schools, Don Ingwerson now serves as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Southern California and corrects misconceptions about Christian Science. Don is a frequent blogger about health and spirituality.