Dear Barbara, Is it possible to get too much "treatment" for an illness?
Our medical treatments seem to be based on the premise of “if we can, we will.” I think that just because we can do something medically doesn’t mean it is in the best interest of the patient to do it.
Medicine (physicians, hospitals) treat diseases that people have. That is what doctors are trained to do and what hospitals have the capability to do. And this is good. That philosophy has brought humanity from blood letting, not washing hands, and witch doctors to all the amazing medical advancements we have today.
HOWEVER, humans have suffered in the process (and I mean that literally, suffered). Lost somewhere in the decades of modernization is the Hippocratic oath: “Abstain from doing harm”. The medical establishment is doing a lot of harm in the name of advancement. “What I learn from one patient, though I fail, I will apply to the next patient” is a theme spoken by many physicians and medical schools. But do we want to be the medical establishments guinea pig? Some of us do, others don’t. Here is where choice comes in. If we as patients are given options based on accurate facts, knowledge, and realistic goals we can make knowledgable decisions on how we want to live our life (and dying is still very much a part of our life; it is our final experience in living). Unfortunately most of us aren't told about goals, and we don’t ask.
Where is medicine that treats PEOPLE that have diseases? Where is medicine that looks at the PERSON and finds out how they want to live and die based upon their physical condition. Sometimes it is there; some physicians are trying. But more often than not our personhood does not enter into the goals the medical establishment has for us when treating our illness.
Can we get “too much treatment”? Yes, I think we can.
Something more about Abstain From Doing Harm...
There are many, many End of Life nurses, chaplains, volunteers, ect. who share in my FaceBook group, End of Life Care and Bereavement. As a community we discuss issues like this. I always respond and welcome the conversation. Join us!