Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Health" Magazine Writer, Suz Redfearn, Advocates Deceptive Practices

The teaser arrived in my email box---Nine Secrets Health Insurers Don’t Want You to Know---and I clicked. Suz Redfearn, a freelance writer, says that

To get tested, talk up your symptoms.Your insurer doesn’t want to pay for a colonoscopy if it’s not necessary. But if your best friend is diagnosed with colon cancer and you want the $675 test to put your mind at ease, here’s how to get one covered: Mention to your doctor that you’ve had some blood in your stool and a lot of gas lately—or simply that your bowel habits have changed.

First, this is obviously not a colonoscopy but a flexible sigmoidoscopy. It costs a lot more for the more extensive procedure that checks the right side of the large bowel in addition to the transvers and descending colon. And sedation typically is not given for the flexible sigmoidoscopy. Most patients do not require colorectal cancer screenings before the age of 50. These exceptions include those with a history of familial adenomatous polyposis, obvious changes in bowel habits (bleeding, changes in diameter of stools, and unexplained anemia), and first-degree relatives diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

The National Cancer Institute has a wonderful site that explains the various options available for colorectal cancer screening. I would encourage all patients to discuss their risks with their providers and not resort to subterfuge or lying in order to obtain a test that may not be necessary.

I sent a letter to Health stating my disappointment with their decision to publish an article that advocates lying and deception in the patient-provider relationship. Healthcare providers already manage patients who claim they take all their medications as prescribed, who exercise as recommended, and who avoid dangerous health practices. Let's add another nail of skepticism to the communication coffin.

Other blogs about this article include:
California Medicine Man
Kevin MD Medical Blog

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