It's an all to often occurrence in my line of work as a hospital pharmacist to hear other healthcare professionals talking to patients about how they can treat their ailments. This almost always involves a reference to the latest procedure or newly released blockbuster drug. While some rare occasions may indeed call for such action, many do not. We have a pill for everything in this country and a high tech procedure for everything else.
Many of the conversations I hear go a little something like this:
Patient: "How'd my cholesterol test come back?"
Nurse: "It's higher than we'd like it to be, but the doctor just ordered this drug called Lipitor for you..."
Patient: "The chest pain was almost unbearable at times doc."
Doctor: "You're going to be ok. You're actually a really good candidate for a procedure called a cardiac cath. What happens is we'll insert a stent into your coronary artery..."
Patient: "This indigestion is killing me. It's been going on for days. I can't sleep at night it's so bad."
Doctor: "I'm sorry. It has to be difficult to get any rest when your chest feels like it's on fire. There's this medication called Nexium we can try on you. It's the purple pill. You may have heard of it before. Also, I can give you a sleeping pill called Ambien..."
Patient: "So what's the verdict from my fall? Is anything broken? I'm really in a lot of pain."
Doctor: "Unfortunately, you broke your hip. You have osteoporosis which is a major contributor to this. We need to consult an orthopedic specialist to see if surgery is necessary for you. Also, there's this drug called Fosamax I'd like to start you on once you leave the hospital..."