Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The limitations of screening

I mentioned a little while ago that there is a growing body of medical opinion that's trying to bring some sanity to the screening juggernaut. Good to see that my daily read (The i newspaper) has picked up on it today.

Under the heading, Trust me I'm a doctor, it mentions the new website www.privatehealthscreen.org, which expresses concerns over the widespread use of  private screening and goes on to say,
The disadvantages and risks of the screening are downplayed, say campaigners. Companies avoid any discussion of false positives and false negatives, which are inevitable with virtually all forms of screening, as well as the implications of finding conditions that are best left "unfound".

Complaints have been lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority, and in some cases rulings have made companies amend their claims. While it remains illegal in the UK for prescription pharmaceuticals to be marketed directly to consumers, screening services are not subject to the same limitations. "In fact, screening is sold as something any responsible person, concerned about their health, would go for," says Glasgow GP Margaret McCartney, author of a new book The Patient Paradox, which includes a questioning look at screening of all types. "The potential hazards of private health screening are real – and a lot of the patients I see simply can't afford £130 anyway. A person's own doctor is usually in a far better position to offer unbiased information and the chance to discuss the need for investigations, and to give support."

In 2009, Which? magazine found none of the private screening companies visited offered written information about possible downsides, and there was worrying variability in the results, depending on the company.

In October this year. I tested the system myself, calling Life Line screening's free advice phone number as a consumer. I asked twice very clearly during my call if there was any disadvantage, downside, or risks, with any aspect of the screening, and I was assured on each occasion there was not. 'Really, there's nothing to be worried about at all,' came the reply.

Post a Comment

The Long Walk

It's always a bit chancy to give someone a book. A little like recommending a restaurant. Will others like it? Will the service be as go...