Monday, February 7, 2011

Skeptical on being overdiagnosed

Or should I say on being a skeptic. Here's another book to read 'Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health'. I think for normal people, there is the risk of being over diagnosed in today's medical system. If you are like me have cancer or something else that is icky, you can skip this part. We are part of the group 'with your medical history, we have to be sure, blah, blah, blah'.

I think normal people run the risk of being over diagnosed. Take the annual screening tests like mammograms, blood tests, etc. If you are abnormal, do you get prescriptions and other visits and more fun 'procedures' to take care of what might be wrong with you?

For instance, if you go to the doctor for your annual physical and your blood pressure is off the charts, what next? A stress test? A visit to a cardiologist? A new prescription? What if the doctor just says 'since its only today, let's check it again in 3 months'? Are you comfortable with that or do you ask for an immediate follow up? Where is your comfort zone?

Then if you are part of the group 'with your medical history, blah, blah, blah' how easy is it for you to say let's wait and see? Last Friday I went to my back doctor and my blood pressure, which is normally 120/80 or 115/78 was 150/94, 147/88 and 155/90 (or something like that - I can't remember three minutes ago, never mind 3 days ago). The third test was on a different machine after a 15 minute wait. The nurse said to me that I should make sure I mention it to the doctor and maybe he would want me to go to my primary care physician for follow up. I did mention it to him, and he did not think it was significant.

I went home and researched it and asked questions and found that our blood pressure can have its ups and downs and I shouldn't worry. (What? Me worry?) I have opted with this to do nothing for now. I don't care that I am in the 'with your medical history, blah, blah, blah' group at this point. I am not jumping to any conclusions. I have another appointment in a month with another doctor and if it is still high, I will worry about it then.

The nurse was right in deferring to the doctor as that is her role. The doctor was right in not over reacting and rushing me to a cardiologist. I am right in not over reacting and rushing to my primary care. This is a little blip in my medical history and totally out of line for me. But do you see how easy it could be to rush to the over diagnosis? Keeping a healthy dose of skepticism in your medical appointments might keep your blood pressure down.


andrea said...

the blog is interesting

Charmine said...

Thanks for the reminder! I , for one, am a bit panicky over the turn of events my life has taken. I want answers now dang it!I could see how that could work to my disadvantage really easily. Good call Caroline!

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