Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Medical Hierarchy

Even though we've been following the clues for decades, we've not commented on the huge amount of hierarchy in the Western medical system.

Here's some examples of clues:

1.  A very large amount of resources goes to the top of the system – to physicians, insurance company CEO's, and drug companies.

2.  There are higher people who can receive health care but many people who cannot afford it.

3.  We become dependent on medical institutions when we agree to over-medication and must keep coming back into the system to keep the prescriptions current.

4. The western medical system is physician-centered with the physician being viewed by some like a deity. There is much less emphasis on individual people taking control of their own health and believing the body can heal itself with appropriate care and time.

The medical hierarchy, just like any hierarchy, can be hazardous to your health. Danish researchers have found that annual physical examinations might actually have a negative impact on your health. Using a large study group of 183,000 people, they found that those who received regular check-ups were no less likely to die of cancer or heart disease than those who only saw their doctors when symptoms occurred. People who saw their doctors regularly were more likely to be diagnosed with diseases and to take prescribed medications - but those visits did not improve their health, and did increase unnecessary biopsies, surgeries, and other treatments.

Another study has found that mammograms have not been effective to catch deadly breast cancers. and more than a million women have been treated for cancers that are not life threatening. The article below, "spotlights a reality that is tough for many Americans to accept: Some abnormalities that doctors call "cancer" are not a health threat or truly malignant. There is no good way to tell which ones are, so many women wind up getting treatments like surgery and chemotherapy that they don't really need."

Because the medical system often operates as a hierarchy, we may want to use hierarchical tools to navigate our way through it. We can ask, "WHO'S BENEFITING?" when we are encouraged to hand over decisions about our body to someone else. We can do our own research and expect to be able to ask questions about the services we are paying for and being advised to accept. We can also seek out health professionals who aren't on top of the medical hierarchy, including those practicing alternative medicine.