Real Medical Reality vs. TV’s Brand
If the TV program “Miracle Workers” represent TV produced reality, here is an example of real reality. My second year medical student, last week, interviewed and examined a man who has a history of recurrent deep vein thrombophlebitis of his legs which causes leg swelling and pain but also carries the risk of lethal blood clots to the lungs. He was being maintained on a warfarin anti-coagulant pill. When he entered the hospital recently with a flare up of the thrombophlebitis, it was found on testing that the degree of anti-coagulation was far below acceptable. When asked by the student whether he had been following his doctors prescribed dosage schedule for the warfarin, he stated “no”. He had been taking only half the dose to “let the pills last longer.” Why? He didn’t have enough money to buy the pills and still buy important pills that his wife needed to take. So here is some sort of a system failure. The patient is unable to be compliant because of medical costs but yet someone is going to pay for the hospital readmission that will amount to many times more than the cost of the patient’s warfarin pills. This example is but one drop of what is happening in real life in the sea of rising medical costs and burden on those who can’t afford these costs.
Although the medical cost problem is not due to one single cause, there is no doubt that the public’s insistence for tests, medications and other treatments that in many instances is unnecessary or even in some cases irrational fuel the rising costs. This then reflected back, for example, to that thrombophlebitis patient, who can’t afford medical insurance and can’t afford to pay for essential medications both for his wife and himself. My point has been that the media through magazines, newspaper reporting, TV programming and direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising is responsible for a large part of the public’s unrealistic expectations of medical care including “miracles”. Of course, it is also physicians who are then yielding to the pressure of their patients by ordering these treatments or tests.
May I suggest that my visitors read about the ABC television program “MiracleWorkers” in an article in the March 5th 2006 Cleveland “The Plain Dealer” The article describes the concern of doctors and others about “Miracle Workers”, other TV doctor programs and medical ads contributing to medical misinformation and unrealistic expectations by the public. Let me know what you think. ..Maurice.