Medicines are Bad for You

Every day, as I print the mandated medication information about a new prescription from my EMR, I end up saying something like:

“When you go to the health food store, all their pills and supplements are good for you, but everything I prescribe has side effects. It’s an uneven playing field.”

Some patients squirm uncomfortably as I continue.

“FDA regulated medications have to list known side effects, even if only one percent of people get them. Would you buy a car if you got a piece of paper that said you could burn to a crisp of the gas tank exploded in a rear end collision or get crushed if you got T-boned by a logging truck or suffocate if he car slid down an embankment and into the Atlantic?”

Usually that gets some recognition.

“It’s just so the pharmaceutical companies can’t get sued if someone comes to harm, because they have been warned. It’s like the man who successfully sued a lawn mower manufacturer for not warning against using it at eye level as a hedge trimmer – a twig flew in his eye that way and he lost his vision.”

Then I get nods and mumbles, but how much nocebo or placebo effect am I getting when I have to present my remedies in his fashion?

I read an article today about how pseudoscience is presenting itself with greater conviction than real science, how alternative practitioners seem unfettered by the doubts of real scholars (the Dunning-Kruger effect), and how now the alternative practitioners are immensely more dogmatic and authoritarian than science based medical professionals.

“One traditional view of the medical profession is that doctors are commanding and authoritarian, even arrogant. Though some individuals fit that description, in fact, the profession is built on doubt.

Most doctors, especially the good ones, are acutely aware of the limits of their knowledge. I have learned from those much more experienced and qualified than me that humility is something to be cultivated over time, not lost.

Our field is built around trying to prove ourselves wrong. In hospitals we hold morbidity and mortality meetings trying to show where we have failed, what we need to change, how we can do better. Our hospital work is audited to identify where we fell short of our ideals. Through scientific research we try to disprove the effectiveness of treatments. Our failings are exposed from the inside.”

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