Updated: Apr 16
The Hippocratic hypocrisy
The medical community message sold by pharmaceutical companies, peddled by health care providers, and unwittingly consumed (literally) by patients is that taking a pill cures disease. This is a lie.
Have you ever asked one question to 50,000 different people? Parents would be the first to interject here to say ‘I know I’ve answered that many questions, nearly that many since I started reading’. It can seem like we answer the same questions on repeat at home or at work or socially each day. Sometimes we ask a question that is really just a greeting that requires a canned response, “How are you?”
In the past 10 years I have asked the same question perhaps phrased slightly differently to over 50,000 people. Do you have any medical problems? (Authors note: Variants of the same question. Tell me about your medical history? What chronic medical conditions do you have? Any previous medical history? I always know I am going to get a more thorough answer from someone else in the room. Apparently it is human nature to readily talk about another persons’ problems.) It is the most common question they get wrong about themselves.
Frequently incorrect replies are ‘I don’t have any’, and while yes patients have a tendency to not tell their doctor the whole truth this particular inaccuracy is propagated by medicine itself. I find I usually get a more accurate answer to what I really need to know when I ask ‘what medicine do you take everyday?’ People often take over-the-counter medicine for heartburn, headaches, allergies, joint pain, back pain, skin conditions, or cosmetics. Many people take herbal remedies, oils, or vitamins. A large number take anti depressants, mood stabilizers, and sleep aids. Various reasons exist why these simpler, common, or mental health related conditions might be omitted when recounting your medical problems.
None of these, however, are the problem. Hundreds if not thousands of times an exchange goes like this.
Me: “Hi I’m Dr. Hill, I’m your ER doctor. (I say doctor twice on purpose.) What brings you to see us?
Patient: “You are too young/good looking to be a doctor.” (99 out of 100 its the first of those options. Apparently doctors aren’t supposed to look normal, young, or pleasant. I happen to land squarely in all three categories.)
I smile warmly and they pull themselves away from subconsciously evaluating my credentials to give me the reason for their visit to the ER. I ask pointed questions about the timing, nature, onset, and various pertinent details about their current illness. Once that information is gathered, processed, and stored; then comes the big question.
Me: “Do you have any medical history?”
Me: Do you take any medicine everyday?
Patients: Yes, lots of them. I take a small white one for by cholesterol, another for my diabetes, a heart pill, and a few for my blood pressure. But those are all controlled.
Similar conversations occur in roughly 30-40 percent of patient interactions throughout the day. The most damaging condition is the false perception that taking a pill each day for high blood pressure to use one example cures hypertension.
The medical community message sold by pharmaceutical companies, peddled by health care providers, and unwittingly consumed (literally) by patients is that taking a pill cures disease. The consequences are most damning for lifestyle diseases; hypertension, obesity, atherosclerosis-plaque build up and hardening of the arteries. These three things directly lead to the number one and number two leading causes of death worldwide for the last 20 years. (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death)
Heart attacks and Stroke.
A pill does not cure you from what is most likely to kill you. These medications lower your risk each day, week, month, year that you take them from the main event that will kill you. Your stroke or heart attack. Essentially keeping you alive longer to consume unhealthy diets, practice damaging habits, and keeping buying medicine. Medication that makes you think you are cured from the disease of your lifestyle.
It is purley propaganda that the healthcare industry, especially in the US, wants you to be healthy. It is the 3.5 trillion dollar lie. (https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/Downloads/highlights.pdf)
Insurance companies, drug companies, hospital administration have no incentive to help anyone get better. From the top down they make money off of people being sick as long as possible. Even beyond their ability to financially afford their treatment. To top it all off physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants all get paid by seeing more patients, doing more procedures/surgeries, and keeping you alive long enough to keep being sick.
The question of how to fix health care really has more than 50,000 smaller questions, but less than 3.5 trillion pitfalls. But the answer is simple: get well.
I’m not writing a health recipe book though, not yet anyway. Just like healthcare entities there is no incentive to tell you what you already know. Changing your lifestyle is the cure for lifestyle diseases.
If you are questioning if we are there yet. Not nearly. We are just getting started.