Role of Fear in Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment: an essay by Iona Heath
The title says it all regarding this extraordinary essay in the October 24, 2014 British Medical Journal. Here are a few quotations from the article. If you would like a copy of the entire paper, let me know (email DJE )and I will send it to you. I cannot post it online because of copyright issues.
In recent decades, health has become a commodity like any other. The exploitation of sickness, and fears of sickness, for the pursuit of profit has increased recently, underpinned by the rapid commercialization of healthcare.
Montaigne wrote: if you don't know how to die, don't worry: nature will tell you what to do on the spot, fully and adequately. She will do this job perfectly for you; don't bother your head about it.
Every healthcare professional is now required to consider an ever greater array of potential risks to the patient's health, however well patients might be feeling. And every responsible and rational citizen is expected to actively seek out and eliminate all possible risks to their future health and to consume medical technologies in order to achieve this aim.
A great comfort is the unpredictability of the future. No one knows exactly what will happen tomorrow. We know a lot about probability, but probability is a long way from certainty. People do not always get the result predicted by their lifestyle. Not everyone who smokes will die prematurely. Conversely, a good diet and regular exercise do not provide complete protection from random disaster.