Too Much Health Care

Having practiced medicine for 36 years, I know that too many individuals receive too much health care.  Encouraged by drug companies to rush to their doctor or pharmacy for every symptom, however minor, patients end up on medications that they don't need and that might produce side effects.

Individuals with worrisome symptoms, especially when acute, severe or persistent, should certainly seek medical attention.  However, minor aches and pains, typical cold symptoms or mild gastrointestinal problems do not warrant a doctor visit or the use of prescription medications.  While evidence-based screening tests are certainly advised, regular physical exams and "shotgun" lab screens in healthy, asymptomatic individuals are generally not indicated and may turn up minor abnormalities that lead to expensive and invasive studies, the unnecessary prescription of medications and healthcare-induced complications.

Healthy adults are advised to eat a well-balanced diet, get regular aerobic exercise, avoid tobacco use or exposure, limit alcohol consumption and minimize the use of supplements and medications (unless specifically recommended by a healthcare professional).  Unfortunately, parents often train their children to use medications or visit doctors for every minor symptom or injury and too many physicians, attempting to placate such individuals, offer unnecessary prescriptions.  Our bodies are designed to heal themselves when minor illnesses or injuries occur; too often, excessive healthcare gets in the way.