Life’s uncertainty and overdosing on medicine

This morning an article was published in the conversation by Ray Moynihan and Dr Iona Heath exploring how our society deals with the uncertainty of our future health. Faced with the knowledge that all of us will get sick and die at some stage the authors suggest that this impels us all to try and find the solution to these problems, resulting in the medicalisation of our lives, over-diagnosis and over-treatment.

For the authors this relates to choices of medications and treatments and highlight the choosing wisely campaign as an example, a topic which Dr Iona Heath will be speaking on at a free public event in  Sydney this week.  These ideas also have a potential significant impact on our relationship with ideas of death and dying.  Dealing with the uncertainties of life in this way of seeking control through medicine can make the reality of death also seem uncertainty, potentially making the times when we are touched by it more difficult for all of us.  Programs like choosing wisely can on this level be seen as part of a cultural shift to be less death-denying, and to start to talk about these difficult topics with the hope that this makes dealing with them a little easier.

This is an important program, and one which we will likely be hearing more about in Australia after its success in the NHS in the UK.  The major medical training colleges in our region are also involved in supporting this work meaning that there is a great potential for longer term change in medical practice resulting from this work.  I encourage anyone who is interested to seek more information at the website and if you are involved in a medical college, to find out how the college is embracing this aim to chose more wisely.  If anyone has had any experience with this program or would like to provide any feedback then please feel free to respond to the article.



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