Prevention, a Medical Dilemma
Dilemmas usually cost a lot of money, and a medical dilemma is no different, but it’s more than money, it’s the population’s health that is at risk, and carries the cost.
What exactly are medical dilemmas?
The medical system, even so it is absolutely dedicated to help the sick, is lacking behind in one aspect, Prevention and improving Health.
With Health, I mean what is stated on the WHO web-site:
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being
and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”
We may all applaud the medical achievements in surgical and intensive care, but all those innervation have in no way diminished the for “ever-growing” number of sick and diseased people, and have in no way “increased” complete health.
General Practice, Specialists, and Hospitals are as crowded, or more crowded than ever, how could that be?
Apparently, statistically the deaths from prescription drug side effects are higher in some countries than the death from road accidents.
The medical system, and probably in conjunction with the political system, has never fully embraced the importance of prevention and researching how to support and build Health.
As always, there are some exceptions where prevention has been successfully implemented, such as the Anti-smoking Campaign, and we need more of those.
Other preventative campaigns may sound like prevention, and are important, but are not supporting health as such.
Prevention can come in many forms; here are some of the “dilemmas”, where aspects of prevention is missing.
Prevention and the Medical Testing Dilemma
A patient presents to a GP with troublesome digestive problems. The GP, over a few consultations orders; blood tests, stool tests, breath tests, cat scan, and finally a colonoscopy and gastroscopy, successfully ruling out all serious problems, which obviously is very important, but with one major problem and therefore dilemma remaining;
“The patient still has the same problem as before.”
This is a real Medical System Dilemma; and in no way am I blaming the individual Doctor, as it is a system and education problem.
Apparently the medical system can’t treat, or support a patient if nothing specific is diagnosed and therefore no drug or surgical intervention can be prescribed.
There is usually not much advice given to the patient either, other than maybe; “watch your Diet”, and … a wait and see approach is taken.
Dismissing “Prevention“ to the detriment of the patient who may now slowly get worse and eventually develops a real medical problem, is not a good outcome.
Note: By the way, that patient is probably now seeking help from a Naturopath, meaning; the medical system in effect is indirectly sending the patient to a Naturopath.
This is where prevention is needed, health improvement and education is needed, and making sure that the patient receives guidance of how to eliminate the apparent problems or symptoms, and further more, to make sure the problem will not resurface.
The medical dilemma; “of not being able to help people improving their health, in fact means, that Doctors are waiting for the patients to get sick, before they can effectively treat a patient.”
Tests could be preventative, if the patient would be educated to use a “negative” (all clear) test to their advantage and learn how to Prevent to get whatever they were tested for.
Lets use an obvious problem such as Obesity as an example:
The increase in recent years of overweight people, and associated medical problems is a clear example, that prevention is not practiced.
GP’s would be confronted with overweight people everyday, and many Doctors are overweight as well, but there is no long term prevention strategy in place.
The associated problems of being overweight may not be present at time of consultation; even so, some mild symptoms may exist, but still no strategy for preventing the obvious is advised, other than “lose some weight”.
A GP, telling the patient to lose weight is not prevention, if it is not associated with health supportive education, strategies, workshops, lectures, weight loss groups or similar.
Weight loss is only one obvious category suitable for prevention, but it needs to be taken seriously, not only by the medical system but by the government as well. And it is not enough to say, adults should be responsible to choose what they eat, unfortunately as we can all see, we are not.
Societies temptation, with the help of marketing and advertising has clearly won this battle. (would you like fries with that?)
Weight is not the only health problem caused by food and drinks, examining the food labels on our supermarket shelf’s show a chemical onslaught no normal body can withstand for long.
Part of prevention may have to be better food regulation and advertising regulation, and this has nothing to do with being a Nanny state, it has all to do with preventing ill health and associated cost to our society.
Education and research is vital to enhance preventative measures.
Naturopaths do have a wealth of information, which in conjunction with more holistic thinking could be a welcomed “complement” to the medical system.
To counteract the negative press and sentiment is some parts of society about complementary medicine, regulated and better education will be important, and in addition a system of accreditation or registration for allied practitioners.
It is unrealistic to assume that a GP could fulfill the requirements of a preventative health strategy, the time factor would be prohibiting.
However if a GP could refer patients with confidence to a Preventative Care Practitioner, classed as “Complementary Medicine”, the overall Medical System would be improved greatly.
The point being, we don’t need more Hospitals, we need more Healthy People.
The new medical mantra could be:
It’s much more fun to work on your Health
than working on your sickness !
Article by Dieter L. – useNature Magazine Editor