Recently, there's been many studies that addresses the fact that physicians are ordering more and more unnecessary drugs and exams for patients simply because the patients want it. To raise HCAHPS scores and the push for customer satisfaction are raising the cost of healthcare by the demands for expensive tests and medications. Patients now have better access to healthcare information, and are in the driver's seat of their care delivery, choosing what is right or wrong, and self diagnosing.
Truth is, this push for unnecessary, expensive medical treatments have been around since before the World Wide Web. In the United States, direct-to-consumer or DTC advertisement, for medications have been legal since 1985. Bringing directly to the consumer-minded, hypochondriac nation, the answer to all their problems. "Are you feeling this? Well, you may have this!"
After a tv, radio, or newspaper drug commercial, you fear for your life, because you have felt that pain once, 3 years ago, for 2 seconds. Your first thought is you must go to your doctor and get a prescription for that drug to save your life! You need that medication so you can run on the beach with a dog you never had, happier than ever like the people in the commercial, or you even picture yourself playing golf, all because of the drug advertisement.
The ads always end with, "ask your doctor if...... is right for you. "
This phrase has boosted the cost of healthcare, because now you NEED that medication, it is the ONLY thing that will work. Drug companies spend billions of dollars annually on ads alone, billions more than what they spend actually making the drug, because patients are consumers, and consumers love a fancy and attention grabbing ad. So WebMD and Google cannot take the entire blame for patients knowing better than the physicians what is right for them.
In the ads, the spokesperson blasts through the side-effects as fast as you run out the door to get your prescriptions filled, not fully, or appropriately disclosing the possible unpleasant effects you may experience. The best part is, it works, we demand those drugs. Only a few countries allow DTC ads for drug companies, because of the dangerous outcomes it may lead to. Americans spend around $370 billion dollars yearly on medications, so it works.
Along with asking your doctor if the drug is right for you ads, comes negative ads for some other drugs. Lawyers making bank out of suing drug companies, also hooking the consumers with, "if you or a loved one experienced ..... while taking ...... we can get you a river of money! Call now!" Our consumer minds are never satisfied, so we get happy with the drug ads and want it now! Then with the legal suits ads we become angry and suddenly feel all the actual possible side-effects of those medications, or we know our loved ones have felt them, and we must sue and ask our doctors to switch the drugs immediately.
I can't count how many times I have heard from a patient that I am trying to medicate, "Oh, is that the medication that was on tv causing all those problems? I don't want that one." Again shifting the treatments based on the consumer's wants rather than needs.
Patient's trust in their physicians have reached a new high according to a Rasmussen Reports survey, so how come patients still demand unnecessary treatments? Or they now have a higher trust rates because they are getting what they want and not necessarily what they need?
The Dude Nurse
Klaus Campos, BSN-RN