Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sickness as Sin 2

I have been haunted by a response from David about my earlier Sickness as Sin post. I suggested that it would be good for the NHS and for society if people were ashamed of being ill. Since the overwhelming majority of people who go to their GP are either perfectly well or suffering from something for which there is no treatment, making them ashamed and thus discouraging them from bothering their doctors would plainly save a lot of money while having no adverse effect on the nation's health. David's response takes this point further:
"Some years ago while involved in sending lab results back to GPs electronically (PMIP-Pathology Messaging Implementation Project, unfortunately usually referred locally as 'PIMP') one GP rejected it totally - it robbed him of one of his key clinical tools - time. Samples were taken and patient told to come back in a week for the results. Most never did as symptoms/conditions resolved themselves without intervention. Sending results back within hours imposed an obligation to confer with patient probably unnecessarily."
So to add to the health care system's burden of dealing with the well or the untreatable, there are also those whose condition will cure itself without medical intervention. Yet experts on television or in magazines and newspapers always end their advice by solemnly insisting that we ask our doctor. In fact, the socially responsible thing to do is avoid doctors at all costs, there is little risk involved since we are overwhelmingly likely to fall into the categories of well, untreatable or self-curable. I reckon making illness shameful would halve the NHS budget and make Gordon Brown's brand new nuclear deterrent - here - easily affordable.


  1. David makes a very good point. As someone said (who?), the job of the doctor is to 'keep the patient entertained while Nature effects a cure.'
    A.Doctor (not the other one)

  2. I think you know by now (is there alimit on the length of this fiels ?). Obviously not.June 28, 2006 10:02 pm

    One hopes not Dr Johnson...

  3. I Harris et al. Association between compensation status and outcome after surgery. JAMA 2005 293: 1644-1652.

    ... concluded that compensation might lead to worse surgical outcomes (but probably compromised by sampling methodology).

  4. Ballentine Ding-DongJuly 15, 2007 2:18 pm

    This is precisely what is happening in Tanzania..

    with the effect that HIV/Aids is now prevalent in over 25% of the population.

    Other cultures, even in this country (UK) have problems with women avoiding medical treatment.

    Verdict: BAD IDEA