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Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

thisoldman
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Registered: 06-04-2009

Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

This post is kinda complicated so please bear with me, as even I am struggling to comprehend the full concomitant implications of some recent research.
I was reading an article on Molecular Psychiatry, and as far as I can gather, the gist of the research article, was the suggestion that at present most illneses (particuarly psychiatric) are treated by doctors prescribing routine and fairly standard medication.
However,  researchers at a number of uk and usa universities now seem to be arguing that until the human genome is mapped for each individual patient ( at present this costs 28000$) then it seems more than likely that the wrong medicine is being given to patients.  Current research suggests that specific genome related medication should in fact be designed for different patients.
The consequences of this staggers me.

http://mbldownloads.com/0510PP_Guest.pdf

just read the final paragraph
12 REPLIES
pierre_pierre
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Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

my wife has a heart condition, and by history, was referred to the Cardiology dept at the local county hospital, they refrred her to London Royal Bronpton for a specializes Thalium scan, she was then passed on to St Bartholomew for thought ,they said they dont trust Royal Brompton and wanted to do their own tests,  OK she needed an ICD Pacemaker
Come closer to the op, have you had an Angiogram - no Oh well have one now, have you had a heart attack no.  ICD fitted, after a year passed to the new Cardiac Dept at Basildon (Regional one) - yet another doctor, meanwhile the Local had passed her onto the heart failure clinic and a non hospital doctor.
Then came the question, why are you taking this medicine, and also why this one, they are not correct for your problem.
Still being contacted, by Barts, Local original doctor, Basildon, doing check on the pacer, heat failure Doctor all saying different things for the same condition.
The crunch came when called to Local Hospital Doc to see the Cardiac Specialist, but seen by Registrar assistant.  Went like this, have you had any more heart attacks recently.  Blew her top as she had never had one, it was a virus that caused the problem. - told them to get stuffed, in the mean time two letter from two different doctors arrived on GP's desk trying to remotely change medication in different directions.
Guess who wins
thisoldman
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Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

sorry pierre i forgot the reference you will find this interesting or  skip to last paragraph
Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-09-2010

Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

Doctors do the wrong thing for a particular patient all the time, and sometimes it kills that patient, sometimes it harms them to a lessor extent.  However the converse is also true, and there is no doubt that we are better off with modern medicine than without it.  So yes, doctors do harm without intending it, but they do good more often.
thisoldman
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Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

now whilst the studies are concerned primarily with psychological illnesses, let your brain do a little tinkling.
You go to your gp with a skin complaint (for example) and he prescribes a standarized cream medication. But without knowing your genome
data, the medication coulkd seriously conflict with some or all of your genome traits and hence serious consequences could conceivably arise.
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Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

What most of you don't realise is that many doctors will not agree with each other on a diagnosis or a method of treatment. It's like IT people who will nearly always argue or suggest different fixes (IE telling you to wipe your history when your bandwidth is zilch). The difference is that the medical profession keep their disagreements quiet. Like solicitors who never sue fellow solicitors, doctors, surgeons, specialists etc always scratch each others backs.
I've had the same doctor for about 4 years. He's completely misdiagnosed 3 health problems I've had and only now after 4 years is he taking the most serious one seriously. I've been referred now for specialist attention and at my appointment recently they actually told me the cause of one of the symptoms - something which I'd suggested to my doctor years ago and he dismissed.
Think about it logically guys.. The human body is far more complex than almost any machine. Many mechanics can struggle to find a complex fault yet we expect doctors to memorise about 3 million different conditions, their symptoms and the cure (if there is one).
I think what I'm getting at is that while it's extremely frustrating and often makes you feel like you resent them, the medical profession is really still in its infancy.  Add the growing problem of funding cuts, a growing population and the like, and things will go wrong.
There have been times when I've wanted to tell my Doc he's ruddy useless and I've thought about making several complaints about him but at the end of the day he does get there eventually and my life experience has been better the devil you know..
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Denzil
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Registered: 31-07-2007

Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

As some of you know, I have had direct experience of this sort of thing as well. My (then) GP effectively did me harm by not taking seriously the symptoms I told him about or the diagnosis I came up with (Lyme disease in my case). As a result I didn't get treated for a year, by which time it becomes much harder to treat, and I had to be treated by a private specialist for far longer than if if it had been recognised early. I am only now, five years later, getting somewhere close to my former fitness.
There is a big push these days towards standardisation in medicine, and the application of "Evidence-Based Medicine", which only allows doctors to treat based on published, peer-reviewed medical research.
Standardisation is fair enough to a point, to ensure that everyone gets the same standard of care, but I think this approach is often more about protecting doctors from legal action than about protecting patients. If something goes wrong, a doctor can be excused by saying he was following guidelines from a medical body.
This approach may work OK for well-understood conditions, but falls down badly for conditions that are still under-researched. Lyme disease is one, and I'm sure there are many others. How can a doctor treat according to published research if there isn't enough research to tell him what to do? Doctors are not being allowed to use their clinical judgement to decide what is best for the individual, they are being told they should only treat to the guidelines, however inadequate they may be.
Like okrzynska said, the medical profession is in its infancy, but there are influential people who want to standardise it all before we are sure what the best approach is.
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Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

I think in reality until the human genome is fully understood and everyones DNA is assessed by a super computer, its still too early to be able to fully diagnose some complex medical conditions and the reaction of some treatments to them.
I read online a few years back that scientists are now working on artifiicial bodys on a plate - IE micro sized body parts which they can test treatments on to examine the reaction before putting it into use. Thats great but in reality we need the patients own individual DNA to be available for the correct treatment to be prescribed - and thats only after we've worked out how to undertstand it, how it works, etc.
Assembly code is hard enough to understand yet the human genome is full of the equivalanet of billions or even trillions of lines of it. It will be a long time yet before the medical profession can improve its accuracy through the use of it. I reckon that given that R&D is a slow process and typically needs lots of tests and data gathering to prove theories etc, that it might be a plausable reality in 20 - 30 years. Sadly too late for many folks but still in time to save many in the future.
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Midnight_Caller
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Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

If you want to help with "Human Proteome Folding" or Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy Join World Community Grid
[Edit]
My main computer is working at both and a number of others as well 24/7
Community Veteran
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

I would but unfortunately I don't have access to the same processing power as I did in my past... At one point I had more processing power than the mighty Sean Branagh on this forum but now I'd call him the god of CPU cycles  Cheesy
I've still got the beasts... in bits, locked up, etc but none of them are currently in a usable condition.
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
Midnight_Caller
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Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

So why don't you put it on the Computer that you use day to day?  That is World Community Grid will run on:

  • Windows

  • Linux

  • Apple Mac


So what is Stopping you from installing the World Community Grid Boinc Client?
Community Veteran
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Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?

Because its already struggling :~
It's the fastest processor'd machine I have. It only had 512MB ram on it when I got it and I assumed that was a bottleneck slowing it down as it used to get very hot and the CPU fan would go into overdrive. Despite this its the quietest machine I've had.
Upgraded it recently to 1GB! (Woohoo) and its still made little difference. It still struggles more than my AMD 1.8GHz machine (which sounds like concorde) so I have to be gentle with this one.
When I get chance to get one of the old code crunchers running again I'll give it a go Wink
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
thisoldman
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Re: Are Doctors Unintentionally Harming Us?