Monday, November 23, 2009

Guidelines

This has been one confusing week. For women and for healthcare providers and for the citizenry of the United States of America. As everyone listens to the debates about healthcare reform and conjectures about who and how we will all be affected, very new guideliness have been issued from two different bodies about what is standard of care regarding tried and true diagnostic tests for women.

Did you know that there was a governmental task force created to re-define guidelines for mammography? They decided, for us, instead of the conversations which we have previously had with our physicians, that the necessity for routine mammography has changed. Evidently, the Secretary of Health didn't see or approve of the new guidelines until the press released them. Or, as is often the case in huge government, she found out along with the rest of us. Or she forget. Or she thought it would just disappear along with all the other "new" edits cranked out everyday. Her response to the new guidelines, essentially, is that they are not the "law" and that we should keep doing what we have been doing. And to talk to our doctors. I am not sure that really addresses what the guidelines really should be or that the government has the right to determine individual policy on our behalf. Most importantly to me is: how much did the task force spend on this recommendation. And more importantly, why didn't they just use all that money elsewhere, since no one is paying the new guidelines any attention?

Then ACOG, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, changed their guidelines for pap smears. The tests that identify women at increased risk for cervical cancer. I would presume that gynecologists and family healthcare providers are going to get quite a few calls from women about how to manage their gynecological needs.

The public is confused. About how these recommendations are determined. Why they changed and if they are better or driven by some motive other than our best physical interests. How is the medical consumer to know the answers when we have come to doubt the veracity and intention of the governing bodies making these changes in standards for us?

Now the debate is about rationed healthcare.And all the talk about government managing healthcare in a free and capitalistic society. And who is entitled and who not. Pretty big and confusing The debate is healthy and also on-going and of great concern to the little people. Be an informed medical consumer. Ask questions; watch the media's portrayal of the facts and get it from every side that you can. All the networks and all the periodicals and please check with your providers about what they recommend. Our healthcare is only as good as we expect and demand. And our providers are only as good as their communications with us about making sure that we understand and are fully informed about how they collaborate with us to dispense the care we need. Be aware and be informed. Be good citizens and be good askers and even better, be good listeners. Untimately, it's all about you, so take of yourself and be well.