An Inside Look at Health Care for the Elderly and Medicare
By Andy Lazris, MDby
As doctors we often chase numbers, measuring them and then fixing them. It is very tempting to think that we can help people by "fixing" their numbers. We check sugar, blood pressure, pulse, weight, labs of every variety, cholesterol, bone density, mental capacity, and so many more numbers. If those numbers fall outside some preordained level of normal, we label our patients as having a disease (high blood pressure, diabetes, osteopororis, dementia, ect), and then offer medicines to fix the numbers and thus the disease. When the numbers imprvoe, we assume that the patient has improved. But how accurate is that assumption? Are we really helping our elderly patients by incessently checking and fixing numbers? Number chasing is one of our primary functions as doctors, and is encouraged by Medicare, primarily through its quality indicators. Chapter one of my book delves into number chasing and Medicare's culpability in its overuse. I will be making a video about number chasing this week, and will post a series of brief videos discussed the risks and benefits of measuing and treating multiple forms of numbers in the elderly.