Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How do you make medical screening and treatment decisions?

A topic of conversation around here and at dinner with friends the other night has been whether or not to follow recommended guidelines for medical screening tests and procedures.  Cost/benefit discussions show it is not easy to decide in all cases.  Have I wasted time and money by having mammograms and pap smears my entire adult life since they all came back negative? There are risks in most treatments however not getting treatment can have serious consequences including an earlier death.

We don't want to be smart people who made stupid decisions that cost us our life or health.  I don't have an answer to how to make these decisions except to encourage everyone to be an advocate for obtaining information from their health care providers.  I have requested the book Your medical mind: how to decide what is right for you from the library and will discuss its suggestions on how to be a proactive patient once I have read it.


  1. I agree with you that there are risks, but I think it is much easier to deal with things before they get to serious. We go twice a year to the dentist, even though I hate to do it. Most of our kids have never had a cavity because of this. Even though your tests may come back clear each year, there are chances that something will happen and it is good to catch it early. I would consult with your doctor and ask their opinion. Maybe you don't need to go as often.

  2. My husband and I aren't completely in accord on all these things - I go to the dentist every 6 months, he makes it once a year, swearing the 6-month appt is 'a business plan, not a health care plan'. BUT I also don't accept annual Xrays as a necessary test. I found a dentist that uses digital imaging and limit it to every other year.

    As you & I have discussed Juhli - I have some issues with invasive testing, such as the colonoscopy, without understanding the risks. Ultimately we have to be our own advocates, and be informed consumers. There's no question that the litigious climate has made doctors fearful of not performing every imaginable test.


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