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Preventive Health/Medicine/Care: Let’s Give It A Name

It’s a scene that plays out thousands of times every day in doctors’ offices across the country — the moment the doctor shifts from addressing the concerns that brought the patient into clinic to when he or she attempts to make sure everything else is going okay.

Often this happens at the end of a sick visit, after working up an upper respiratory infection or back pain. Sometimes it happens after following up a chronic medical problem such as high blood pressure or arthritis, and occasionally it happens under ideal circumstances, during an annual physical or routine wellness visit. It doesn’t necessarily happen at the end of the visit. Often it sneaks it’s way into various points in the encounter — as when the doctor places his or her stethoscope over a patient’s chest while evaluating for knee pain.

What I’m referring to is so indistinct that it doesn’t even have an universal name, but rather goes by many titles — “preventive health,” “preventative health,” “preventive medicine,” “preventive care,” “healthcare maintenance,” “routine healthcare,” “routine checkup,” “annual physical,” and “health and wellness” — to name a few.

But whatever you call it nearly everyone agrees how important it is. The healthcare reform debate was ripe with calls for more “health”-care not just “sick”-care, and one of the most welcome measures in the new healthcare legislation across both sides of the aisle are provisions to support it. Outside of Capitol Hill, from cereal boxes to magazine racks and celebrity doctors, messages about staying healthy are everywhere, as is the general belief that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at BeyondApples.Org*

In The News: Boosting Disease Prevention And Unethical TV Doctors

An article in the New York Times this week looks at a raft of new public health initiatives passed by Congress that are aimed at boosting disease prevention. Examples include requiring restaurants with at least 20 locations to include nutrition information on their menus and mandating employers with at least 50 employees to allow new mothers to express breast milk at work. In addition, Medicaid will now cover smoking cessation counseling for pregnant women and Medicare beneficiaries will be eligible for an annual physical. The initiatives are expected to eventually save money by decreasing the country’s chronic disease burden. (New York Times)

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University recently did a study applying physicians’ ethical codes to the conduct of the fictional doctors on “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House, M.D.” Perhaps to no one’s surprise, TV doctors are behaving very badly. As the abstract of the study states, both shows feature “egregious deviations from the norms of professionalism and contain exemplary depictions of professionalism to a much lesser degree.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, Journal of Medical Ethics)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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