Doctors’ body does not condone over-treatment

Published: 5 October 2014


PETALING JAYA: The Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia does not condone over-treatment of any disease condition, said its president Dr Steven Chow.

“We strongly support patient management based on evidence-based medicine. Likewise, under-treatment and trivialisation of early disease is a sure recipe for unmitigated disease progression which will result in a catastrophic outcome for patients,” he said.

On Sept 15, reported that over-treatment in heart disease and breast cancer was a global problem.

Quoting two new studies published in The BMJ medical journal, it said the unnecessary practice of treating mild hypertension patients with blood pressure-lowering drugs alone cost the United States a whopping US$32bil (RM104.27bil) yearly even though research on whether this reduced cardiovascular-rela­ted disease and death was not established.

It also added that screening women over age 70 for breast cancer did not offer enough benefit to be worth it.

The two studies were part of the recent 2014 Preventing Overdiagnosis Conference in Oxford, Britain, attended by more than 320 scientists, clinicians, policy makers and consumer advocates.

Senior consultant cardiologist Dr Ng Swee Choon said mild hypertension (BP of 140-159) formed about 60% of the hypertensive population, adding that such cases need treatment but not necessarily with drugs.

“The message that mild hypertension is okay because it is low-risk, is wrong. These patients must be monitored. If they develop co-morbidities like diabetes, drug treatment may be required,” he said.

Malaysian Medical Council member and obstetrics and gynaecology senior consultant Dr Milton Lum said women (without breast-related symptoms) age 50 and above should have annual mammograms.

However, Dr Lum, who is also the Medical Defence Malaysia director, said the benefits of screening women above age 70 “can obviously be questioned”.


Originally published in The Star Online


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