Do as I say, not as I do

from the blog Before You Take That Pill by J. Douglas Bremner, be sure to click the word editorial:

http://tiny.cc/x9UTm

There was an interesting editorial written by Rita Redberg MD yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine about President Barack Obama’ latest physical. Sure, we all think that the Commander-in-Chief should pull out the stops to make sure he is healthy, but should we doctors condone his use of expensive technologies that have not been shown to add anything to health except cost? Especially when he is advocating healthcare reform that will cut costs?

Consider what this healthy middle aged under 50 male went through. Electron Beam Computed Tomography (EBCT) for measurement of the calcium in his coronary arteries, a super hyped procedure whose costs go into the hundreds if not thousands of dollars, and that has not been shown to have any beneficial effect on health outcomes. Next, a virtual colonoscopy, in a man who is recommended to get a one dollar stool guac test for early detection of colon cancer.

It’ not that these useless and expensive medical tests are so benign. The EBCT increased his risk of cancer by 9 out of 100,000 possible cases. The chairman of radiology here at Emory famously had a “routine” CT screening and ended up in the ICU because of all the tests that followed (in the end he had no disease).

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