Thursday, September 24, 2009

Watch and wait - a treatment approach

Voltaire en 1718.Image via Wikipedia

The September 22nd issue of the Wall Street Journal has an interesting column by Melinda Beck, "Getting Well: It's About Time."  To make it simple this about about how so much waste is involved in our health care system because we are impatient.  For many conditions one would do best to just wait.  In a previous blog I present an anecdote about Dr. Paul Glasziou using the best treatment for his 2 year old's otitis media, "watch and wait".  Ms. Beck cites a few different doctors who note the value of such a non-treatment approach. 
There are a bunch of great quotes in this piece:
  • "Most people's bodies and immune systems are wonderful in terms of handling things—if people can be patient," Ted Epperly 
  •  "I have a mantra: You can do more for yourself than I can do for you," - Raymond Scalettar
The estimate is 1/3 of the US expenditures on health care would be saved if we did less, when appropriate.  Ms. Beck presents a list of when one shouldn't wait such as signs of stroke, heart attack, majory injury etc.
 The bottom line is better health care decisions on both patients' and doctors' parts would save us a ton.
"The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease."
Voltaire (1692-1778)
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