I don’t see all that much wrong with this, depending

Bon Voyage!

Panel suggests eliminating expensive cancer treatments that don’t prolong life. We all (some of us, anyway, if not me) want to live forever, but that rarely happens. Go with dignity, but go when your time is up.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – In a move that threatens to further inflame concerns about the rationing of medical care, the nation’s leading association of cancer physicians issued a list on Wednesday of five common tests and treatments that doctors should stop offering to cancer patients.

              The list emerged from a two-year effort, similar to a project other medical specialties are undertaking, to identify procedures that do not help patients live longer or better or that may even be harmful, yet are routinely prescribed.

              As much as 30 percent of health-care spending goes to procedures, tests, and hospital stays that do not improve a patient’s health, according to a 2008 analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget office.

[snip]

              Although the task force emphasized that its recommendations — winnowed from about 10 suggestions by oncologists — were driven by medical considerations, the report makes clear that expense was a major factor. A number of cancer drugs cost nearly $100,000 but extend life a few months or not at all. Widely-used imaging tests cost up to $5,000 yet do not benefit patients.

[snip]

              “The American people have a much higher opinion of doctors than of government bureaucrats,” said Kate Nix, a policy analyst at the free-market Heritage Foundation. Whether the ASCO recommendations to withhold some tests and treatments will be seen as rationing “depends on how they are used. Will they inhibit the ability of doctors and patients to make the best decision in each case?”

I’m okay with denying useless drugs to the dying so long as those who want to spend their own money, impoverish their families, etc. can still do so. The thought of a panel of Dollar Bills dictating my medical care is a disturbing one, though.

15 Comments

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15 responses to “I don’t see all that much wrong with this, depending

  1. Anonymous

    what about the type who smoke, have heart problems and continue to smoke?

    • Same reasoning, and also for the over-weight, the physically inactive and Twinkie eaters. Of course, if the federal government and the states stopped paying for medical care, prices would drop to a level that all those health-indifferent folks could pay for their care themselves. I’ll sign you up for repeal, shall I?

  2. anon

    love the photo. that’s how i plan to go out, but first, maybe the family would cremate my body, not just wrap me up for a long slide off a short pier.

    try holding back someone suffering from cancer trying everything, even if the drug/treatment is on a list that doctors say doesn’t work.

    the bigger issue here is actually getting access to good oncologists. the waiting list for an appointment is long, even if you can get to the wait list. many experts don’t take just any cancer patient so keep eating your super foods and hope you don’t need to call anyone.

  3. FF

    The flip side is when your doctor tells you that $500,000 treatment will prolong your life a month or not at all, and your insurance pays it, and everyone’s premiums go up for no reason. We are all in this together, or not at all. What’s it going to be?

  4. Inagua

    Anyone interested in cancer should read last year’s Pulitzer winning book The Emperor of All Maladies – A Biography of Cancer. With the exception of some childhood cancers and a few detection tests, very little progress has been made. Surgery, radiation, and chemo in all but a very few cases only buy time at a terrible price in terms of suffering. A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that virtually all cancer-diagonsed doctors refuse treatment.

  5. InfoDiva

    I think it speaks volumes that study after study shows that an overwhelming number of doctors do not, when the time comes, chose these last-ditch treatments for themselves.

  6. FlyAngler

    Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this the process that Sarah Palin referred to as “death panels”? Contrary to whether DB is on it or not, she was roundly ridiculed for the hyperbole of the term but is that not the impact of such anonymous care decision-making panels?

    OK, maybe “death” was over the top, how about “shortened life panels”?

  7. Anonymous2

    Before I decide if these people have a point I’d like to know if they based their suggestions on reality, or, were they pressured by the Obama government? You can’t trust anyone anymore.

  8. dogwalker

    FlyAngler, It’s only a “death panel” if it involves people appointed through an Obama initiative. When insurance companies decide, like now, it’s the market working. And when a group of physicians make the proposal, like here, it’s a rational decision.

  9. Look on the bright side

    my primary care physician prescribes dozens of tests that are unnecessary to massively inflate the bill (paid by insurance) everytime I go in for a problem or checkup

    the rationale is a simple (and effective) one: it is in the patient’s best interest and ensures the best possible care

    that, along w/ lack of tort reform, is the real problem

    • Well, you can always asdk him or her what the purpose of each test is, what it will cost and what it will do, then reject the unnecessary ones. That’s what I do, with insurance or not.

  10. edgewater

    many cancer treatments have two problems — they don’t fix the cancer AND they destroy your quality of life in the interim.

  11. Peg

    Many doctors run dozens of tests because they’re fearful (rightly so) that they could lose their ability to practice in a lawsuit if they don’t run ‘em all.

    Put me in the camp with those who think that we should stop spending hundreds of thousands to prolong life for a month or two or three. If you wish to purchase insurance to cover such treatment – have at it. But if most of the rest of us wish to just enjoy our last days as best we can when we get near the end – please don’t expect all of us to have to pay for your 3% chance of getting better.

  12. Anon58

    Why do I, a lifelong nonsmoker, pay the same health care premiums at work as people that spend at least one hour a day smoking outside? I’ve asked my HR Department that a few times and they have yet to come up with a credible answer.