That's the question posed in an article published in yesterday's The New York Times.I'm a bit biased, given my six years of treatment for AML. I think I've had about the right amount of medical care, as costly as it's been.
I've been to three top-notch cancer centers and it's interesting how they differ in terms of how closely they follow you and how many tests they order. At Dana-Farber, my doctor was efficient and didn't spend a lot of time going over every med and symptom. I feel he ordered tests prudently.
At New York Presbyterian-Cornell Weill, my doctor spent most of her time with me typing into her computer. Her nurse practitioner had already asked me all the relevant questions and examined me. That was wasteful and time-consuming. My doctor recommended photopheresis which is invasive, costly and sucks 10 hours out of your week. Other than leaving me with a nasty scar on my shoulder and scar tissue which impedes movement in my collarbone, it did nothing for my skin. At $2500 per treatment, I couldn't see the point of continuing, but when I asked my doctor, she said I should continue for another three or four months to make it a year. I stopped that day.
At Memorial Sloan Kettering, where I am now, the degree of medical care runs somewhere in-between. The only thing I can complain about is that in order to have a freckle-sized melanoma removed from my lower shin, I have to first have a consultation with the surgeon, and then schedule the surgery. This extra step seems gratuitous and I hope I won't be charged for it. My dermatologist already biopsied it, so it will be three appointments plus follow-ups. I already spend so much time on medical care, I do wonder why some doctors seem to want to spend more time than ever on ordering and reviewing tests, and then scheduling seemingly extraneous appointments to deal with the issue. Don't doctors want a life?