The Canadians will use Family Histories and Genetic Makeup in Rationing out their Health Care

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 4th, 2012

Week in Review

One thing I’ve always hated about seeing a new doctor was going through all those questionnaires.  Family history.  Are you a smoker?  Have you worked in an asbestos factory?  Do you wash behind your ears?  They just seemed to want to know everything.  When scarring showed up in an x-ray of my father’s lungs his doctor had a lot of questions for me, too.  Did my father and I work in an asbestos factory and, if not, they were going to check him for tuberculosis.  And if I had any plans to travel or do anything possibly infectious, don’t.  Thankfully, my father’s tests came out negative.  We were at a loss to where that scarring came from.  And I now where a mask while cleaning the cat’s litter box.  Just in case.  Because of the potentially scarring dust it stirs up. 

So anyway, family histories and environmental factors during medical exams were nothing new for us south of the border.  But apparently not in Canada.  Until now (see Feds set to pour millions into personalized health care by Jeff Davis, Postmedia News, posted 1/30/2012 on The Vancouver Sun).

Personalized health care is a medical model that attempts to tailor treatments to the unique needs of individuals by taking genetics and other factors into account. Family health histories are considered, as are other elements such as social and environmental factors.

The government hopes personalized health care will enable doctors to choose which treatments will be most effective, rather than using treatments that are likely to fail due to genetic or other factors…

A government source said this is a “cutting edge” approach to diagnostics and treatment that will help the hospitals waste less time and money on ineffective treatments. He said this is part of a larger federal push for more innovative health-care methods.

Perhaps they’re going to actually add genetic testing for each patient to identify possible treatment resistant genes.  Sounds expensive.  But note the reason why they’re doing this.  To cut costs.  Which is a never ending battle in nationally provided health care.  Here this medical model will help cut costs by rationing treatment.  By determining which treatments will have a low percentage of benefiting the patient.  So they can save that treatment for someone who will have a higher percentage of benefitting from that treatment.

National health care is a game of numbers.  And the way to make it most efficient is by creating a system where they can reserve care to those with an acceptable probability of responding to that care.  And give a pill to the others to manage their pain.  Until there is no more pain to manage.

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