Next time you head to the doctors for that routine checkup, you may want to think twice. Research over the last few decades has shown that the annual physical is not only pointless, but could even lead to dangerous procedures that are unneeded by those receiving them. As Americans, we are seemingly alone in this misunderstood need to perform this ritualistic exam. In fact, other developed nations have given up the notion of yearly exams and only seek the doctor as needed. In 1979, Canada officially recommended the giving up of this annual physical, and schedules only special office visits when sick. It is apparent that America needs to give up the notion of “more is better” and start thinking “less is best.”
The “more is better” attitude may stem from the American ideals of insurance. In the United States, doctors and hospitals make money from patient visits, from scheduling tests, and performing procedures. Drug and medical equipment companies also stand to profit immensely from patient visits due to immense monetary investment in doctor to patient advertising and promotional items. This idea of patients as consumers drives the medical and pharmaceutical community to push items and treatments that may not be necessary or appropriate for the patient.
There is also physiological and sociological reasons for the American obsession with medical treatement, such as the abundance of medical specialists and malpractice potential that will increase a doctor’s want and concern for further testing and absolute assurance that the procedure they are conducting is appropriate and correct. Doctors would rather run the test, than have to explain to the patient why they didn’t need it in the first place.
As Americans we need to understand and listen to our Doctors when they advocate for “less care.” This is not the Doctor’s reluctance to treat us, but the Doctor’s attempting to impress upon us the reduced need for such stringent medical oversight. If we as a society can accept that reduced need for medical care, then our health care providers can provide the right care, at the right time, and for the right patients.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, Eastern Shore Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service.