I Need Medical Tests

You visit the doctor and she’s just finished her exam of your body. You wait … sitting awkwardly with legs dangling over the edge … on the paper-covered exam table. The same one where you had just been prone just a few minutes ago while she did said examination. You’re wearing a faded cloth “Johnny” gown loosely tied at the shoulder, with a mind of its own … insisting on revealing your shoulder and other things. Or maybe you’re “covered” in a stiff and crinkly paper version. And your bare bottom is on the cold table. And you wait. And you wonder. And the anxiety builds as you go through all the crazy possibilities your mind conjures for you … “Thank you mind”.

She returns. She has a somber look and your blood pressure rises. And your pulse starts revving up like a motorcycle in a driveway. And she says … “YOU NEED TESTS”.


This scenario is pretty common in the US. Our medical system is based on a physician either knowing exactly what one’s ailment is. And if not, ruling out a list (small or large) of possibilities. It’s the way it is. And not just here, but in many countries. It’s the nature of the beast. Simply because physicians just haven’t gained the knowledge base. Technology and the medical institution is still growing and learning. That’s just the way things are.

But let’s look at the above statement in bold. YOU NEED TESTS. Because the doctor doesn’t know or might not be sure of what you have, she HAS to run tests to rule out things you don’t have. But those tests DON’T MEET YOUR NEEDS! They meet the needs of the doctor! Plain and simple. Yes one could argue that you receive the benefit of those tests indirectly. But ponder this: if she runs a test … say, an X-Ray, and that X-Ray shows nothing of any consequence, have your needs been met? Have you benefitted directly in any way? Has your situation improved? Do you still have the same symptoms and illness? Answering these questions may shed some light on exactly whose needs have been met.

So yes, the doctor has meet her needs. Her understanding of your situation has improved and she’s better able to zero in on your situation. You may or may not benefit.

Let’s suppose we live in the future and there’s a Star Trek-like device the doctor waved over you and it gave the exact diagnosis. In this scenario, tests would be unnecessary. Therefore, in our present society, tests are run because the medical knowledge base, coupled with current technology is insufficient to diagnose you … to meet your needs.

And because the doctors need need to run tests on us, WE need to pay for those tests. Ahhhh … there’s the rub. WE pay for tests because our medical community hasn’t progressed enough to arrive at our diagnosis more efficiently. These tests may be “necessary or unnecessary” … but they the system is in a state where they get run and we (or our insurance company) pay for them.

My point is this. Regardless of the ability we have to affect any type of change in the above scenario, it is OUR responsibility to understand whose needs are truly being met in any given situation.

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