No matter who you are, no matter where you live, and no matter what you do for a living, each and every person is an individual. Single, married, parents, students, there are no two people out there who are exactly the same. For most of you reading this, as you are likely a parent, you know that even two children born and raised to the same parents, in the same household not only have different likes, dislikes, and personalities, but also may have different allergies, immune systems, and illnesses. When the most recent viral stomach bug enters your hallowed home through one little child you hope no one else gets sick and sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. The bottom line is every person is different which is why the United States medical community’s standard of care approach is harming us all.
What is the Standard of Care?
The legal definition of the standard of care when referring to medical practitioners is the level and type of care that a reasonably competent and skilled health care professional with a similar background in the same medical community would have provided under the same or similar circumstances.
The standard of care however can also refer to formal guidelines that are generally accepted in the medical community for the treatment of a disease or condition. Also referred to as best practices, this standard of care is the most concerning as it seems that oftentimes these guidelines are based more on the legal communities and insurance companies’ protocols and decisions than on sound medical knowledge.
Looking from the outside in, it would appear that these two widely accepted standards of care should be at odds to the extent that a reasonably competent and skilled healthcare professional would not simply treat patients based on protocol.
Unfortunately, in the extremely litigious society we have created this is exactly what is happening. The practice of medicine has become a cookie cutter approach to patient care that gives us minimal confidence in our doctors and nurses and forces the sickest patients to research, become self-informed, and fight insurance companies tooth-and-nail to develop their own best treatment plan. There is very little consideration given to each patient’s specific needs and situation to the extent that no comparative analysis is done when deciding on treatment options.
Why the decline of the medical profession?
Two words: Government and Litigation. The decline of the medical profession, the personalized care approach, and the best interest of patients has long since gone by the wayside as good doctors have been forced to make choices not only to get paid, but also to prevent being sued by every patient suffering complications, even known, well-explained risks. We, the American people (really our parents and grandparents) now complaining about our healthcare have caused the problem.
While remarkable technological advancements are being made in this very field, the standard of care or best practices is still being dictated by the legislature in the form of Medicare, the pharmaceutical companies, and the medical malpractice insurance companies.
Doctors are forced into treating patients under unreasonable time constraints with specific drugs that may or may not be suited to their particular condition, but fits into a checkbox. Further, new, less invasive or more natural treatments are being ignored and left untested because the cost to benefit ratio is not there for large, private industries and is actually lobbied against by big pharma.
Unbeknownst to most Americans, Medicare policies and procedures are handed down from the legislature. Private insurance companies then align their standards, practices, and pricing with Medicare’s directives.
From medical marijuana for cancer and inflammatory bowel disease to garlic and elderberry for everything from the flu to bacterial infections, there just may be viable alternatives to toxic, addictive, drugs out there but they are largely being ignored.
Patients, whether 30-something parents, millennials, or aging adults are becoming so skeptical of the medical profession that we are constantly searching for alternative solutions but without any real help or direction. Our nation’s best and brightest, our doctors, are largely sitting ducks with their hands bound by antiquated, outdated regulations imposed by the wealthy and elite in our society with no concern for the people other than lining their pockets.
What does this mean to society?
Admittedly, antibiotic overuse is leading to a resistance that has potentially deadly complications, yet most health professionals still follow a best practices methodology that continues this trend. Add to that the absolute poisoning of our food supply with GMO’s and preservatives and our very lives are at risk every day.
Our government has literally allowed private, for-profit industries to begin burdening us, the people with chronic illness and disease through our food sources. Then, to add insult to injury we throw big Pharma into the mix with their toxic, legal, and addictive “solutions” to all the new health-related problems, medications which in and of themselves do little to heal the sick, but instead cause a slew of new or different “side effects.”
According to the WHO (World Health Organization):
- Antibiotic resistance is “at dangerously high levels in all parts of the world” and is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.
- The misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.
- Potentially life-threatening infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and salmonella are becoming more difficult to treat as they are not responding to our current antibiotics.
- Antibiotics are over-prescribed by healthcare workers, veterinarians, and over-used by the public.
- Antibiotic resistance makes important medical advancements such as organ transplants, chemotherapy, general surgeries, and cesarean sections much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections.
Unfortunately for those afflicted with illness and disease, although really for everyone who requires medical treatment at any time, the practice of medicine is a business and the cost to benefit ratio of more natural treatment solutions is simply not worth it financially to those in positions of power. The true short and long-term costs of the current standard of care or best practices for the general population is simply not being considered.
For example: If a pregnant mother tests positive for Group B Strep during pregnancy, she is treated with IV antibiotics during labor. Understanding that the risks associated with GBS complications for babies are severe this would make sense, but one must also acknowledge the long-term side effects this “killer dose” of antibiotics has on the newborn’s microbiome and gut bacteria.
Fortunately, there are alternative therapies with potentially promising results – bedside rapid strep testing, the garlic vaginal protocol, the hibiclens protocol – but these are ignored, not because ineffective, but because the cost of the IV antibiotics is relatively low compared to the cost of a large scale, long-term study to determine the best practice. Further, no pharmaceutical company is going to fund such a study when they would potentially lose money from the results.
Similarly, Crohn’s Disease and cancer patients have shown significant improvement and even disease remission with marijuana and diet. However, again these treatments are largely ignored by the standard medical community because the cost to benefit ratio is detrimental to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries lobbying the loudest.
In my own experience, good doctors are frequently very supportive of patient’s alternative therapies (and lots of questions) readily admitting that their hands are tied on what they can and cannot prescribe, suggest, or order based on insurance regulations. Sadly, it is just disappointing that as a society we have to advocate so strongly for ourselves, especially since this usually happens at a vulnerable time.
So…What do we do? Question, advocate, investigate, research, and persevere. As a parent, you are your child’s first line of defense, as a spouse you are your significant other’s ally, and as an adult with aging parents you are their champion. Your job is to go to bat for those you love which means making hard decisions and in order to do so you must have all the information.
Unlike the older generation who were taught to follow doctors orders and did not have the resources to do otherwise, we are living in the information age. Do not be discouraged, do not be intimidated, do not keep quiet because you were taught to respect authority or simply hate to be a bother. Do your research, ask your questions, and weigh your options; do not blindly follow a doctor’s recommendation because it is called the “practice” of medicine for a reason. It is time for those of us who want a happier, healthier tomorrow to stand up, stay strong, and start fighting for ourselves and our loved ones today.