If the doctor patient relationship was established with a greater risk component, then the patient and not the doctor would be assuming the risk of deciding upon a treatment protocol. In my opinion, this is a healthy way to contain costs in health care. Law suits are not driving up the cost of health care but any medical professional will tell you that defensive medicine practices are. If the medical professionals shift the risk to the patient, then patients will be assuming risks for treatment. I recommend this shift for several reasons.
- The growth of alternative medicine in providing comfort where cures do not exist
- The growth of defensive medical practices
- The growth of information sources now available to patients that did not exist 20 years ago.
- The need to tie cost containment to health care delivery systems
- The growth of electronic means of reporting and monitoring medical treatment
So let the patient beware. One of the reasons that health care has had explosive costs is because health care does not have reciprocal mechanisms built into it which occurs in our free market. This has been a primary cause why health care costs have gone out of control. It also has had an impact on the growth of bio-medical stocks exploding growth in a recessive economy. If the government is going to write a bottomless check for health care, then why not invest in it? Most investors wisely see that they would be foolish not to. The argument that we have the world’s best health care and it should be protected is breaking down. This week The Cancer Society reported that PSA blood testing in 50 year olds is a cash cow that is not delivering any real benefits for many men. I still believe that we have the best health care delivery system, but unchecked medical research and development can not survive on a bottomless pit of borrowed money.
Alternative medicine can provide relief to people where a cure does not exist. For example, pharmaceuticals are not the always the best way to manage pain. They can lead to addiction where withdrawal is just as significant as the pain they are attempting to control. The alternative medicine field is less expensive than the traditional medical practices. They have less burden of regulatory compliance and few defensive medical practices because the patient assumes the risk. Electronic portable devices have made the monitoring and reporting of medical treatment portable. Patients can now monitor their own vital signs and feed back that information to a medical professional with wireless technology.
Perhaps in the future a consumer protection agency for patients can be established that will protect the interests of patients. This regulatory idea is far more preferable to defensive medical practices that encourage medical professionals to exacerbate costs to protect themselves. It is not medical malpractice law suits that are raising our health care costs. It is the threat of them. Medical professionals tend to be compliant individuals that cross their "t’s" and dot their "i’s". They will do everything in their power to avoid being accused of negligence. These people have good values that are being turned on the ear because of the threats of law suits.