Friday, April 27, 2012

More Public Oversight Needed

I was listening to NPR's Science Friday today. Host Ira Flatow was interviewing medical journalist and author of Patient POV Blog, Laura Newman about a recent post of her's titled "Top 10 Reasons Why Warren Buffett's Decision to Treat Prostate Cancer Bugs Me."

Newman cited research showing that non-symptomatic prostate cancer is best watched rather than biopsied or treated and that elderly men ought not be treated at all in most cases.

Simply, the likely sequelae or consequences -- incontinence, impotence, bowl disorders, etc. -- of the common treatments -- surgery and/or radiation -- are so severe that they should not be undertaken until disease symptoms are noticeable to the patient, and not at all in elderly men. Elderly men have a far greater likelihood of dying from another cause than they do from diagnosed prostate cancer.

What caught my ear was a comment from Newman that she made a couple of times regarding the reason urologists urge their patients to undergo surgery in spite of the evidence-based recommendations to wait. Can you guess what she said?

She said that urologists specializing in the treatment of prostate cancer recommend surgery too often because surgery is how they make their living.

In other words, medical doctors who have taken an oath to first do no harm and to put their patients' interests first routinely recommend unwarranted surgery with known very serious side effects because they make their living doing the surgery.

If medical doctors are willing to harm their patients for a buck (even if they have fooled themselves into thinking something else), how likely is it that vivisectors wouldn't experiment on animals simply because that's how they make their living? Not likely at all.

The clear unambiguous conflict of financial self-interest is overwhelming. It is a pressure that most people find impossible to resist.

Couple this with the recognized group-think in insulated social systems like vivisection labs and university vivisection programs and it is easy to understand why so many transparently frivolous and meaningless studies are approved and funded.

We need much more public oversight of animal experimentation. If patients can't trust their own doctors it is unreasonable that the public should trust vivisectors and the system that sustains them and reaps financial rewards from their work.

See too: Surgeons Operate More When They Own the Surgery Center

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