Bob Franken

Mammograms: Fix Them, Don’t Discard Them

So let’s understand this: That U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is recommending that regular mammograms should be delayed a decade because in addition to significantly preventing death, they result in too many “False Positives” and misdiagnoses of what needs to be treated or ignored.

Before I go any further, I will admit that I am a man, in case the name “Bob” wasn’t a dead giveaway. That means anything I have to say on the subject can be considered suspect. Of course.

Wading in anyway to the bath water they want throw out with the life saver: Is the Task Force’s conclusion really another way of saying that the reason to do away with a procedure that can be the difference between survival and dying is because the medical system cannot be counted on to do the tests and analyze their results in a competent way?

Wouldn’t a recommendation that everyone cleans up his act and figures out how to avoid these dangerous and costly mistakes be a much more rational conclusion? One would think so. After all this time, we shouldn’t have to accept the idea that the professionals would screw up so often. That’s why we pay them such big bucks. Right?

Unless “Rational” means we are really hearing a rationale for savings that money by Rationing in a time when many worry that cutting health costs saving will trump life saving.

Instead of rationalizing for the medical practitioners and device manufacturers who need to do their job better and for the insurance companies who are looking for any excuse to refuse payment, maybe this task force can find other preventive approaches.

There are some obvious ones. For instance, how about really attacking obesity, with meaningful regulations that rein in the food industry’s irresponsible marketing of sweets and high fats. That would demonstrably save lives, just like the mammograms they want to restrict.

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