Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH- AHG
Everyone knows that healthcare costs are skyrocketing. One cause is the ordering and provision of unnecessary medical tests. Sadly, our society is becoming more litigious, so doctors order tests to show that they provide an exhaustive work up with clearly documented test results.
Medicine is becoming more reliant on technology. Technology can be lifesaving and is incredibly valuable. However, for thousands of years, healthcare providers relied on skilled taking of history and observation to form a diagnosis and treatment plan. Success of the treatment was determined by observing patient response. “Is he improving?" was the guideline for evaluating effective or ineffective treatment.
As someone who is faced with a health concern, you want to get the right diagnosis and treatment. It can be intimidating to turn down a test because you certainly do not want to have a health problem go undiagnosed and delay treatment. It can be hard to know what to do.
Here are some ideas.
1. Talk to your healthcare provider.
Ask your him or her what the planned test is for and if there are other alternatives- simpler tests or lifestyle changes that can be tried first. Hopefully you have chosen one who takes a common sense approach to health care. Explain that you are willing to take responsibility, in writing, for turning down the recommendation that she or he makes for a test. Some healthcare providers may order tests because they think that is what the patient wants.
2. Consider waiting to see what develops for a planned period of time.
Many times the body heals itself if given time. Become informed about the risks and benefits of the test and of delaying testing prior to making your decision.
3. Try some dietary changes.
Learn how to implement an elimination or rotation diet. Document your body’s response. Most people know what foods make them feel better or worse. Pay attention to the signals that your body is giving you.
4. Take time for you.
Are you getting enough sleep, recreation, and exercise?
5. Make lifestyle adjustments.
Honestly look at your personal and spiritual relationships. Are you surrounded by nurturing people? Do you like your work? Are you stressed because of money?
6. If you need help, get it.
The mind-body connection is real. Self-administered tests are available online that you can do to see if you suffer from anxiety and depression. Take one. Learn some relaxation techniques, meditate, or join a spiritual community.
7. Keep a health diary.
Note your diet, exercise, moods, and areas of discomfort. Are symptoms weather related? Are they seasonal? What makes you feel good? When do you feel worse? Get to know your body.
8. Consider purchasing and performing tests that you can do from home.
Many of these use urine, saliva, or a drop of blood that you either test or send to a lab for results. Depending upon the test, they may be reasonably priced.
9. Try some natural remedies to enhance your well being.
Do you need to take a vitamin/ mineral supplement? What about an herbal or homeopathic remedy? Try simple lifestyle and nutritional approaches. Progress to herbs and supplements that tonify your body. If you feel unwell, then consider the stronger herbal remedies.
If you have tried natural approaches and still feel unwell, then it may be time to reconsider some tests. Find out which are the least invasive and start with them. Progress to more expensive and invasive tests only when simple ones do not indicate the nature of your problem or if delaying may cause harm.