Start Making Sense Let’s Use Prevention, Part 1

Common sense (which often isn’t common) teaches us that prevention is more rational, effective, and efficient than trying to fix a problem or to pick up the pieces after a catastrophe. Then why has this not been applied in health care, and what could we do to bring this about?

If our goal were to promote disease and disability so that we could individually complain about how badly we feel, and so that (for a strong economy) we could create more jobs in the disease care industry and generate more income and higher stockholder value in the medical-pharmaceutical- hospital-insurance industry, then it would make sense to ignore prevention strategies. It then would be logical to promote the attitude of fatalism, that everyone has a right to be sick, and that it is noble to heroically battle disease as if it were our honorable enemy, to struggle and to suffer, to sometimes win and to sometimes lose, creating a great drama, a giant soap opera, a subject of epic poems.

If, on the other hand, we create visions of a better world and a better life for each of us, we may choose a more noble task that brings us even more heroic challenges and more honorable pursuits. We may choose to prevent most of this suffering by taking actions that have been proven to work, to save lives, to prolong health span, and to improve function and quality of life. Studies have verified Dr. Fries’ hypothesis that improving health behaviors not only prolongs life span but also the span of useful, healthful, quality of life. (New Eng. J. of Med. 1998;303;l30-135)

We, as individuals, as families, as communities, as a nation, and as a global community, all have choices to make. We must decide between health and disease. We must recognize that for the larger part we have the power to create one or the other. Will we take the responsible, optimistic, “can do” attitude, or will we choose pessimism, despair, and Victimhood, looking always for someone or some thing to blame for our problems?

If promoting health and fitness is our choice, then let us take a fresh look at what we as individuals and as a society can do on many levels and in many areas. Let us make new choices that will empower each of us to live our lives better and that will revolutionize health care into a far less costly and much more effective instrument for the well being of all.

All of the leading causes of death and disability such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, iatrogenic and nosocomial conditions and events (Adverse outcomes of medical treatment and hospitalization), accidents, suicide, homicide, AIDS, all are affected by preventable major lifestyle and environmental factors such as stress, social connectedness, job satisfaction, exercise, wise use of medical resources, nutrition (including food choices, food qualify, and supplementation), first-aid and safety education, air and water quality, and workplace safety engineering.

Adverse effects of prescription drugs properly and improperly administered, non-prescription drugs, other medical treatment and hospitalization may be the third leading cause of death.

Since it was estimated in the New England Journal’s report on adverse effects of properly administered drugs in hospitals alone was between the 4th and 6th leading cause of death, not counting medical errors.

If we were able to avoid having to use drugs and hospitals because we prevented the diseases and injuries that led us to use the medical services in the first place, this could be a great saving of lives and quality of life.