The Obsession with More Medicine: 7 Assumptions

We make so many assumptions regarding medical care. The tendency is to exaggerate the benefits of medical intervention and diminish the harm. We rely so heavily on this idea of quick fixes, ignoring the ingenuity of our body’s ability to heal and the potential threat of constant medical intervention. In this excellent short video, Less Medicine, More Health from Professor of Medicine Dr. Gilbert Welch, he discusses some of the most popular misnomers we’ve come to accept regarding medicine.

These assumptions include:

 1. All risks can be lowered: The fact is that it’s hard to lower small risk. Oftentimes the risk of intervention outweighs any benefit from lowering moderate risk.

2. Always better to “fix”: Many times it’s actually better and safer to manage a problem than to fix –especially if the problem isn’t noticeable. It’s hard to make well people feel better.

3. Sooner is always better: Earlier diagnosis makes sense in only specific cases – sometimes it can turn healthy people into patients.

4. Never hurts to get more info: Data overload can scare patients and distract clinicians.

5. Action is better than inaction: All surgery poses trauma, that’s why we have to recover. Actions can sometimes impair our ability to heal. Sometimes doing nothing is the right thing to do.

6. Newer is better: New interventions aren’t always well tested and don’t always guarantee the best results.

7. All about avoiding death: You take risk often – riding rollercoasters, jumping off the high dive, hiking mountains. The goal of life and medicine alike is not simply to avoid death. Remember, fixation on avoiding death diminishes life.