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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Preventative Medicine Saved My Life, But Doctors Are Cutting Back

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A recent NPR story highlighted the ways that doctors are attempting to cut the costs of medical care. Nine medical societies representing nearly 375,000 physicians are challenging widely held perceptions that doctors should conduct colonoscopies every 10 years, early images for back pain, brain scans for patients who have fainted but haven't had a seizure, and antibiotics for mild to moderate sinus problems.

These medical societies claim that money would be saved if doctors cut back on tests. Each of the nine medical societies submitted five tests or treatments that they believe are overused. The new recommendations will be circulated to consumers and doctors by a coalition called Choose Wisely. However, the medical societies do not have the power to enforce the recommendations and it is likely that insurers won't be terribly interested in the changes considering the "overused" treatments don't stand out in the bills processed by insurance companies.

After reading this article, I became very concerned about this new trend. I asked myself where do we draw the line? I want preventative medicine for me and my family because it has saved my life and my wife's life. For example, my wife is a 12 year survivor of breast cancer due to early detection during a baseline screening mammogram. I was cured of prostate cancer due to early detection from routine PSA testing. Considering our experiences, I ask what is 'defensive medicine' or fraud and what is good medicine using all the tools and technology that modern medicine provides.