Sometimes less medicine is the best medicine
Ted Hubert

The “Choosing Wisely” campaign is good news for senior citizens. The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation asked doctors in nine medical specialties to identify the five most tests or treatments that are commonly overused or unnecessary.

The ABIM reports more and more doctors are noticing overused tests or treatments can lead to anxiety, dangerous side effects, pain, exposure to radiation, unnecessary surgeries or death. The trend is to change the culture in medicine.

Choosing Wisely is designed to encourage doctors and patients to talk about possible tests and treatment decisions. Are the tests really necessary? Is this the proper treatment for the health problem? What, if any, are the side effects? What is the cost? Is it covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid?

Patients need to cope with minor aches and pains rather than running to the doctor for headaches, asking for drugs. Choosing Wisely notes that sometimes less medicine is the best medicine.

Eliminating unneeded tests and treatments will significantly lower the cost of healthcare.

Some maintain the current system promotes waste by rewarding doctors that order tests and treatments. Doctors can make more money by ordering unnecessary treatment.

You can view the ABIM Foundation’s list of unnecessary tests and treatments, at

For example, EKGs and stress tests for healthy people without symptoms of heart disease are unnecessary. There is no doubt that these tests are life savers for patients with symptoms. Bone scans for women under 65 and men under 70 with no risk factors are not needed.

As people age the bone density decreases which increases the chance of the bone breaking. Medication for this condition could have serious side effects Some factors to consider are if you smoke tobacco, have broken bones, or have low body weight.

Talk to your doctor about the test even if you fall below the ages of 65 or 70 for women and men respectively.

Sinus infections, even if mild, push us into making a doctor’s appointment. Studies show in 80 percent, antibiotics were prescribed.

The problem is that with repeated doses, the antibiotic becomes less effective which leaves you open for stronger stains of bacteria capable of resisting the drug.

The rule of thumb is to seek professional help, if the sinus problem has been a week or more.

The Amer ican Society of Nephrology warns about taking painkillers. Treatment for headaches or arthritis could cause problems in other areas. Those with kidney problems, or high blood pressure might see the blood pressure increase.

Doctors know to look for the right medication needed to cure or treat one disease without negating the health benefits of other medications. Caution is needed to prevent stomach bleeding and to monitor each case so that the risk of heart and kidney problems are not increased.

Lower back pain ranks high in reasons patients visit their doctor. But one doctor notes the vast majority of people with nonspecific low back pain simply get better, no matter what you do. And most of them get better in four to six weeks, with or without a physician’s intervention.

The medical profession is changing its goals from treatment to prevention, or it seems that way.

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2013-07-11 digital edition

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