Unnecessary Medication-Who is to Blame?

There is universal concern about the rising costs of medical care. Unnecessary drugs are being prescribed on a vast scale and unnecessary surgical  procedures are performed on a large scale. Who is to be blamed for this wasteful practice? The patient expects to receive medicine for every symptom and without it he simply will not get well. True, but who taught the patient to expect a medicine for every symptom? He was not born with that expectation. He learnt it from ignorant doctors who also believed in it. It will be true to say that unnecessary use of medication is in inverse ratio to the combined intelligence of patient and doctor. The word 'doctor' is derived from the Latin docere-to teach. It is the duty of the doctor not only to take care of the patient's sickness but also to educate him about the promotion of positive health and prevention of disease. We have to

give advice to our patients on simple rules of healthy living - regular physical exercise, sensible dietary and eating habits, weight control, avoidance of smoking, temperance in drinking, learning relaxation and stress- coping techniques. If a patient demands a 'tonic', firm advice has to be given that a well-balanced diet is the best tonic. It must be admitted that we as a profession have failed in fulfilling our function as educators of the patient and the community. The practice of medicine has been trapped in a vicious circle- "If I do not give this injection, the patient will go to someone else who is willing to give it—so what can I do? I have to survive in a competitive environment.”