Back in March, when the first cases of the novel coronavirus started to appear in the U.S., all the public health experts assumed that our medical system would be completely “overwhelmed”—because European countries like Italy did not appear to manage it well.
So, they made the ill-fated decision to basically shut down the economy and entire American way of life. Including normal, day-to-day operations within the medical world.
At the time, I predicted that this extreme overreaction would cause all kinds of tragic and deadly consequences. And, indeed, we now know it led to delays in the diagnosis and treatment of aggressive cancers and dangerous diabetes and heart disease problems. It also worsened the already-raging opioid epidemic—by denying access to safe and effective non-drug treatments for people suffering from pain and anxiety.
However, as I briefly mentioned on Tuesday, the shutdown also gave us the opportunity to identify the “routine” medical care you can safely delay or even skip altogether...
A silver lining to getting LESS medical care
Back in June 2020, the respected New York City cardiologist and author Sandeep Jauhar, M.D., wrote a thought-provoking editorial piece in The New York Times about how many people stopped going to the doctor during the pandemic…and how most of them seem to be faring “just fine.”
He even made the astonishing suggestion that, “Perhaps Americans don’t require the volume of care that their doctors are used to providing.”
Of course, Dr. Jauhar came under immediate fire from physicians and patients alike for voicing that unpopular view. One commentator even compared Dr. Jauhar’s suggestion to mass euthanasia.
But Dr. Jauhar wasn’t referring to the subset of people with progressive, unstable, or urgent symptoms that clearly require immediate intervention and treatment. He was referring to all the patients with “stable chronic conditions.” Such as those with well-managed heart disease.
And the data gathered during the early days of the pandemic seems to suggest that Dr. Jauhar is absolutely correct…
Most folks who skipped or delayed treatment remain the same
The Kaiser Family Foundation recently surveyed more than 1,000 adults about their medical care since the onset of the pandemic. Nearly 50 percent of them reported skipping or delaying medical care due to the pandemic. But only 11 percent said their health condition had gotten worse as a result. And a staggering 86 percent said their health had remained about the same!
In an opinion piece defending Dr. Jauhar on Medscape, an online journal for physicians, Dr. Melissa Walton-Shirley said in her 30 years of experience in the field of cardiology, most routine follow-up visits at three, six, and 12 months don’t make any difference whatsoever when it comes to improving longevity and reducing deaths.
In addition, she argued that most routine visits to any type of medical specialist, including cardiologists, are unnecessary if the patient is stable and regularly sees a primary care physician (a family doctor or general internist). That includes patients with good blood pressure and blood sugar control, and without any new heart symptoms.
Unfortunately, far too many stable patients continue to waste time and money visiting specialists month after month, year after year. In fact, Dr. Walton-Shirley reported talking to a patient who had been visiting his primary care doctor every month…for years…just to get a prescription refill for a common, generic, diuretic drug!
And it’s not just Drs. Jauhar and Walton-Shirley who feel this way…
In a recent Johns Hopkins survey, the majority of doctors admitted that up to 30 percent of all medical care administered in the United States is completely unnecessary. And I would argue that figure is probably at least double!
In the end, I’m encouraged that there are more smart, sensible doctors finally discussing the issue of overtreatment in medicine. And, as the pandemic continues to drag on, I encourage you to take a fresh look at your own pathway to good health. Continue to follow a wholesome, satisfying Mediterranean-type diet. Aim to engage in a variety of light-to-moderate intensity exercises…for a total of just 140 – 150 minutes a week. And continue to be your own best advocate…
For example, you can learn about the many safe, effective, natural approaches to protecting your heart, without the use of ineffective and dangerous procedures or drugs, in my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. To learn more about this comprehensive online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!
“People Have Stopped Going to the Doctor. Most Seem Just Fine.” The New York Times, (nytimes.com/2020/06/22/opinion/coronavirus-reopen-hospitals.html)
“Does Less Medical Care Mean Better Care?” Medscape, 7/16/20. (medscape.com/viewarticle/934043)
“In survey, doctors say unneeded medical care is common, driven by fear of malpractice.” Hub, 9/6/2017. (hub.jhu.edu/2017/09/06/unneeded-medical-care-hopkins-survey/)