Monday, June 18, 2007

Did you give Dad something PRACTICAL?

I was feeling pretty good about our gifts to Dad until he told me of a commercial he heard in the middle of the night last week on the radio. "Give your father something practical this year for Father's Day." It goes on to say that the practical idea for a gift is a colonoscopy.

I laughed. I laughed outloud. If I said "Happy Father's Day Dad. I love you so I scheduled a colonoscopy for you" he'd presume I hated him. Like that is an experience you would thank your kids for? Annnnd, aren't doctors suppose to write an order for medical tests based on need and not just age?

So here is my pet peeve in a not-so-small nutshell. I really get aggrevated when I am watching television and see a commercial for some particular prescription drug. The pharmaceutical companies are going straight to the consumer to boost sales. "Ask your doctor about..." they instruct. Since when does a commercial dictate what a patient needs? Talk about a blind diagnosis. And don't believe for a minute the doctors won't write the script if it's not needed.

Ever heard of malpractice suits? If a patient presents with any of the symptoms, you can bet the physician will write the script to CHT-cover his tail. Pharmaceutical companies know this. They bank on the fear of the almighty mal-practice law suit.

And while you're watching these commercials for drugs-er, medications, have you noticed the list of side effects? I forget the name of the drug by the time the side effects have been listed. Who in their right mind would attempt to take some of these pills?

Bottom line. There are some medications that are needed. I've taken PTU for gestational hyperthyroidism. That is a condition life style change and diet change won't cure. In those cases, I am all for medication. Take for instance, the purple pill, designed to eliminate heart burn. It doesn't. As long as you take it, it works. Welcome to a life time commitment. However, not consuming the foods that are causing the heartburn and a proper diet change could eliminate the need in the first place for the purple little pill.

Back to the colonoscopy. Just because you are a certain age, doesn't make you an automatic candidate for tests. Mammograms, according to the latest information, are more of a risk than it is a diagnostic tool for breast cancer. Yet, once a woman reaches the age of 35, she gets "the talk" from her physician. I believe if someone presents with symptoms, they are a candidate based on their symptoms. Not just because they are a certain age. Do some of these test catch illnesses early? They can. I am not argueing that some have had great success with them. However, I don't believe a patient needs to be given tests or certain medications based on age alone.

The over stimulation of medical tests, procedures, precautions and commercials have produced a knowledgable society, but not a healthier one. It's time to go back to using common sense. Eat right. Get proper rest. Exercise. Take control of your health instead of placing it in the hands of your pharmacist. Oh, and another common sense idea. Don't get your Dad a colonoscopy for Fathers's Day. He will remember that one for the rest of his life. But for all the wrong reasons.