The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Americans made over 1 billion office visits to their physician in 2010. Most of us have faith that these trips will ensure unbiased health care advice that is based on knowledge, experience and best practices. But, what happens when we allow professional recommendations to undermine the potential of the human body, dictate how we heal and recover and ultimately, how we view health as an entity? When it comes to making an informed choice about your health, is somebody else making the decision for us?
There are a great deal of Americans who are reliant on being fed diagnoses, and because of it, our standard of care is based on symptoms and how to treat them rather than how we can allow the body to function properly. The polarity that exists between medicine and obeying natural function has become so extreme that we are now encountering historic rates of over-prescribed drugs to adults and children alike and epidemic instances of people with antibiotic resistant issues.
In 2013, a study published in JAMA International Medicine found “a large discrepancy between numbers of outpatient visits requiring antibiotics and the national prescribing rates for the drugs”. Senior author and contributor to this study, Dr. Jeffrey Linder, reported that the prescribing rate for the correct antibiotic [for bronchitis] should be near 0%, yet their research found that the national antibiotic prescribing rate was 73%. Contributing author to this study, Dr. Michael Barnett of Harvard Medical School, says that their findings show that while only 10% of adults with sore throat have strep, the only common cause of sore throat that needs antibiotics, the U.S. national prescribing rate for adults with sore throat has stayed at 60%. Both authors note that the unnecessary prescribing and overuse of antibiotics has led to a surge in super bugs, which is a growing concern not just in America, but internationally. Unfortunately, drugs aren’t the only growing issue.
The amount of surgeries preformed in our country is on a sharp rise and has been for nearly two decades. Today, one out of every three women gives birth via cesarean section, although the World Health Organization recommends that the best outcomes for women and babies occur at a rate of around 5%. According to government data, approximately 465,000 spinal fusion surgeries were performed in the U. S. in 2011 and experts reported that a portion as high as 50% were unwarranted. Obstetrics and Gynecology published in 2000 that nearly 70% of hysterectomies are inappropriately performed due to lack of adequate diagnostic evaluation and failure to try alternative treatments before surgery.
In 2011, a study conducted by Healthcare Consumerism and Hospital Quality in America Report reviewed more than 350,000 malpractice claims, of which nearly 29 percent involved a missed, wrong or delayed diagnosis. The study reported that such errors may account for the permanent injury or death of up to 160,000 patients each year, with researchers saying, “it is probably a lot higher than that”. Breaking this information down, medical errors (not just wrong diagnoses) are occurring at a rate of 40,000 permanent and/or causes of wrongful death EVERY DAY.
As a doctor with a strong stance on natural health and healing, it has become increasingly easy for me to have visceral reactions to the way I see my patients, family and friends make decisions about care for themselves and their families. This isn’t because my knowledge is infinite and my ideas are superior but because most are making the choice to TREAT INSTEAD OF HEAL. We have been taught to view sickness as a disease and not a natural function of the human body. We bring fevers down with Tylenol when a fever is the body’s natural defense to being invaded by bacteria. We administer epidurals to nearly seven out of ten women in labor although literature has concluded that it is counterproductive to the birthing process. Why are people opting to take an intervention in any form when their bodies don‘t necessitate it in the first place? How enabled has our perception of health become that we are willing to risk our own lives for a “cure”? How diluted have our country’s doctors become that some believe that their years of education outweighs the intelligence our bodies have possessed for eons?
The best advice I can offer to any one person or patient when it comes to making a choice about their (or their family’s) health is this: HEALTH IS A CHOICE. How you decide to treat or heal is almost completely and entirely up to you. When individuals are serious about listening and trusting in their body, the route in which they chose to recover is almost always one that involves succinct and adequate options as well as faithful dedication to their decision. People who believe that health is a choice aren’t unraveled by the fear of a prognosis, they are empowered by the notion that their bodies are smarter than pills and devices. The individual who has made up their mind that it makes more sense to be conservative is not persuaded by the time it takes to recover because they know healing will occur in due time. Sickness is a not a lack of things from the outside, it is a powerful internal process that is necessary to the way we functionally sustain a higher quality of life.
If you are a woman, you have capabilities that are so astounding that in some cases, we are defying science. Is it too difficult for you to believe that you were designed for health and not engineered to be sick? My encouragement to you for the week is this: consider making health care choices based on healing and not on treatment. Be more concerned with your approach to health than the convenience or the time frame it takes you to get there. When we own the right to make clear and informed decisions, The Extraordinary Machine wavers for no one. She is a monument to intelligence on levels we are still trying to understand. The female body is a comprehensive entity that doesn’t need to be told or directed on how and in what fashion it should heal. It knows because it was designed to know. Health is a choice and the time to make a decision on your own starts today.