Patients with aggressive, but treatable diseases often wind up suffering at the hands of their medical team. Whether resulting from over-testing, or a lack of a global treatment plan, in many situations doctors continue to make errors that wind up harming patients.
For instance, when treating a non-aggressive lung cancer, a small team of doctors was each administering aggressive and powerful treatments, unaware of the interaction between the various treatments or their effect on the patient. Since being subjected to numerous tests with contrast dyes, and multiple unnecessary medications, the patient’s kidneys have been damaged, disqualifying him from further lung cancer treatment. While everyone was focused on the lung cancer, nobody noticed the damage being done to his kidneys. There were also numerous close calls from being prescribed multiple drugs by different doctors with bad interactions. While each doctor was treating a compartmentalized symptom, nobody was treating the whole patient.
Unfortunately, these types of medical errors are the norm. A concerned doctors wrote: “The system is broken, and the incentives are all wrong. And it is not likely to be corrected soon. Too much money is being made by powerful corporations and institutions that profit from the current lack of coordination and sensible regulation. Free-market medicine that treats health care just like any other business commodity just doesn’t work because it puts profits before patients.
For now, the only protection is a well-informed consumer. Read everything about your condition. Ask lots of questions about the rationale, risks, and benefits of every test and treatment. Expect clear and convincing answers. When in doubt, get second and third opinions.”
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