A group of leading physicians from the United Kingdom has recently delivered rather shocking news regarding the medical industry. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) has gone on record with the new opinion that many common treatments for ailments both minor and severely detrimental are often unnecessary and in some instances can be more harmful than beneficial. These results are part of the Choose Wisely campaign, which urges doctors and patients to have more open conversations about the options they have to treat sickness.
One of the more major treatments that the AMRC is holding to question is the use of chemotherapy as a means to treat dying cancer patients. While the drugs can ease the pain of cancer somewhat and possibly extend the patients’ lives, the organization’s guidelines say that the treatment may actually be of little to no beneficial value. The Academy asks that doctors alternatively discuss the treatments properly with their patients as well as inform them of the possibilities of horrible side effects as well as the fact that the treatment may not even work at all in the long run.
As is to be expected, there are those who are skeptical of this new proclamation. Cancer Research UK, a highly influential charity started in 2002 to raise funds for research and awareness of Cancer, said that palliative treatment through chemotherapy does relieve symptoms for some patients. They also put forth the notion that the AMRC is more concerned about saving Britain’s National Health Service money by recommending that doctors steer clear of expensive treatments.
The AMRC’s chairman, Professor Dame Sue Bailey, responded by stating that while staff had a “duty to look after resources”, the decision to make the new recommendation was not driven by financial responsibility. The Academy’s stance is that far too often, doctors are performing treatments on patients simply because they can and while there are no numbers on how many cancer patients had received palliative chemotherapy that it was happening frequently. Overall they felt that due to the toxicity of chemotherapy, when the desired result is not achieved more harm is being done to the patient than good.
Other advice listed by the AMRC suggests that electronic monitoring of a baby’s heart during labor is only necessary if the mother has a great risk of complications. Additionally, incidents of patients with back pain do not always require the use of an x-ray. The current list of treatments to avoid will grow each year as the Academy adds to it.