Sunday, September 29, 2019

Do It Yourself Medical Tests: The Real Story Essay

In the past decade or so, the advancement of technology has resulted in the boom of gadgets such as cellular phones, handheld computers, flat screen television sets and the like. However, this progression is not only evident in entertainment and information devices. In fact, these vast technological developments have also made an impact in the field of medicine and healthcare. Through the years, the introduction and use of highly sophisticated equipment has significantly improved the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, such as cancer. Most of the time, doctors merely have to evaluate their patients and make them undergo a series of machine-based tests to further diagnose the disease or complications. However, more than hospital-based technology, the introduction devices or kits have made it possible for patients to undergo medical tests in the convenience of their own homes. Before, a woman who suspects that she is pregnant had to visit her physician, give him a urine sample and wait for days for the results of the pregnancy tests. Possibly, the only test that could be done at home back then was checking your temperature using a thermometer. Now, however, simple tests like pregnancy tests and blood sugar tests for diabetes can be bought over the counter, which means that patients no longer have to see their doctor often just to undergo these tests. According to the Detroit Medical Center’s online article, Do-It-Yourself Medical Testing Makes Inroads, other do-it-yourself test kits that have been made available for the past years include tests for hepatitis, cholesterol, colon cancer, urinary tract infections and HIV. Impact and Cost of Do-It-yourself Kits  Based on the Detroit Medical Center’s journal, do-it-yourself medical test kits have made a significant impact on patients’ lives, in particular, the amount of time they spend visiting their doctors and the length of availability of the test results. For example, in the past, diabetic patients had to check whether or not there was sugar in their urine to monitor their blood glucose. However, the introduction of testing strips and blood glucose meters, which were usually strapped to a patient’s wrist, made that procedure archaic and provided greater convenience to diabetic patients. The patients can actually measure the changes in their blood sugar without checking their urine and adjust their food intake and medication according to the results of the blood glucose meter. Moreover, based on the article, these meters can monitor blood glucose levels up to six times an hour, decreasing the need to use painful finger pricks, which is one reason why patients hesitate to undergo the test before. In addition, the development of finer lancets and improved meters used for pricking require less of the patient’s blood. Another home test kit that is currently available and commonly used at home is the cholesterol monitoring tests. While this test does not provide an amount of all the cholesterol fractions such as the good cholesterol and the bad cholesterol, it gives a patient a fairly simple overview of his or her cholesterol count. Similarly, home-test kits such as tests for ovulation, fecal occult blood, colon cancer, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, HIV as well as blood pressure monitoring machines, have provided patients with the convenience of diagnosing themselves at home. However, while the do-it-yourself home test kit is a significant addition to society, it also comes with a high price. Based on Walton Crocker’s article, Do’s and Don’ts for Do-It-Yourself Home Medical Testing, which was published in the Associated Content’s website, home medical test kits like cholesterol tests, prostate cancer tests, drug tests, HIV tests, hepatitis C tests, test for blood in the stool, and home monitoring machines, such as blood pressure monitoring machines, have a combined cost of more or less $6. 2 billion a year. Moreover, home blood glucose monitoring alone costs about $5. 7 billion a year. The original blood glucose monitoring machine was enormous in size and had to be strapped to a person’s back. Now, in contrast, this machine is only the size of a key chain. In comparison, a patient spends about $75 to $150 dollars on a regular visit to his or her doctor. However, more often than not, a consultation with the doctor regarding a certain disease also includes a large amount of time spent and possible inconveniences as compared to using home test kits which similarly provide diagnosis of a disease. Furthermore, do-it-yourself genetic testing kits have also been developed. Patients use the kits to scrape cells from the inside cheeks and send it for testing. The results are released through e-mail. Risks and Issues of Do-It-Yourself Tests While modern society has warmly welcomed these vast developments in health and diagnosing certain diseases, there have been a lot of questions regarding their accuracy and reliability. For example, the results of the home testing for blood cholesterol levels only gives patients the over-all amount of cholesterol and not the exact breakdown. According to the Detroit Medical Center, tests cholesterol levels should at least include High Density Lipoprotein, the good cholesterol and Low Density Lipoprotein, the bad cholesterol. Usually, the area of concern in this test is the exact amount of bad cholesterol as it more or less determines how unhealthy a patient is and what dietary adjustments a patient should make to control his or her cholesterol levels. Do-it-yourself genetic testing also has major flaws especially in the validation of results. Based on a report cited by Dr. Andrew Weil in his website, a congressional investigation found out that certain firms who are selling home genetic testing kits were produced clinically invalid results. These results, if not checked, can lead to false assumptions of a patient regarding his or her suspected disease. For example, a false positive result of a home genetic test which shows that a woman has a genetic mutation that can lead to breast cancer can make her feel overly worried even though she the results are not factual. On the other hand, a false negative home genetic test result may cause a patient to ignore a potential disease he or she has contracted since he or she believed the test results which are, in fact, invalid. However, despite these issues and controversies however, both the demand and popularity of home test kits are significantly growing. One reason for this popularity, according to Walton Crocker’s article, is that these home test kits provide privacy for patients with possible diseases. People who suspect that they have illnesses or diseases, such as Hepatitis and HIV, would rather want to confirm their suspicions at home through the use of do-it-yourself test kits than go to a doctor and risk other people finding out about their possible disease. The greater convenience and the less time spent are also major factors that contribute to the popularity of home test kits. Furthermore, while doctors and health care professionals are pleased that the diagnosis of certain diseases can be done at home, a major cause of concern is that some patients do not consult a doctor even if they exhibit symptoms of a particular disease mainly because they tested negative in the home test kit. The Detroit Medical Center also raised another concern that patients who use home testing kits think of themselves more as â€Å"consumers† than patients as they can purchase these kits from pharmacies and other drug companies. This basically defeats the primary role of the doctor which is to evaluate a patient’s health condition, diagnose his or her possible diseases, and prescribe a treatment that would eventually cure him or her. Moreover, some companies, especially those accessible online, claim that they are licensed by the government to operate but they are really not. Basically, all the issues, inaccuracies, and flaws of do-it-yourself kits suggest that patients who use them don’t always get the whole story regarding their health condition. The results that patients obtain from these kits are merely bits and pieces of the possible disease or condition that they may have. Doctors still know best  Generally, despite the accessibility of the home testing kits and the convenience that they provide, it is best to consult a doctor first before making conclusions regarding a disease. A patient may test negative for a certain home test kit but the symptoms he or she exhibits may prove otherwise only if he or she consults a doctor, who is the best person to evaluate your health condition. The results of a cholesterol do-it-yourself kit may provide a patient with the amount of cholesterol in his or her body, but it does not say which type of cholesterol he or she has in excess. The patient may have more of the bad cholesterol than the good cholesterol or vice versa, but he or she will never know unless his or her blood is tested in an actual laboratory. Although do-it-yourself kits can give patients an idea about the status of their health, according to the Detroit Medical Center, the tests done on an actual laboratory with certified and experienced professionals is still the best, safest, and most accurate way to diagnose any disease or medical condition. In his article, Walton Crocker suggests that before buying any home test kit, it is best to first consult a doctor to first assess the accuracy and reliability of the home test kit and also evaluate the condition of the patient. Furthermore, patients should also inform a pharmacist of the medications they are taking as some medications can give false negative or false positive results in home test kits.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.