Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Too many tests, not enough, wrong tests, bad reads

The first thing the doc does is send you for tests. That must be the first day in med school.

Tests, tests, tests. First, someone else has to do them—it turfs you out of there. Second, they give someone a payday.

Every year we are supposed to get blood tests for cholesterol and diabetes. Supposedly you need hearing tests every year. Do you know anyone who does that? Vision? Same—again, often people skate on that. Mammograms, sonograms, colonoscopies (anesthesia or twilight sleep), MRIs, radioactive heart tests.

Then the results sit on the doctor’s desk until someone looks at anything the lab has printed as worthy of note—they docs don’t know all the optimal values of everything—the lab notes it.

Some tests are called tests but are really invasive exams—such as colonoscopy.

The current advice is to ask what each test if for. For instance, I do not wish to take a statin—do I need cholesterol checks all the time? I already try to watch fat intake.

I had a questionable something or other on a mammogram (again, to me, not a test). I have spent a year trying to figure it out and am not done yet. The doctor who read it had many complaints against him, I learned. Should I believe him?

I am not saying you should not get tests—but don’t move into Sick World and set up shop if you don’t have to. There are some truly fraught tests—such as those to see if cancer is present or has returned.

Otherwise, let’s talk on all those tests.

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