Fear and Ultrasounds at the Senior Center
I got a letter the other day from Life Line Screening.
Apparently, I could just drop dead from stroke at any moment now, nevermind that I'm just 35 years old. A painless 10 minute screening will help me avoid this terrible occurance. Not only that, but doctors can't help me, because they usually can't order diagnostic tests without symptoms.
An alarm goes off, but not the one they hoped. You see, I've just had my annual checkup. I have no symptoms of cervical cancer or HPV, but I had a Pap smear done. I have no symptoms of high cholesterol, but because there is a personal and family history of it, I had my cholesterol checked. In fact, the whole physical was about checking me for diseases that I haven't reported any symptoms for!
Life Line Screening can give me three ultrasound tests in 10 minutes for only $135. But wait, add on an ultrasound Osteoporosis screening for $170. But wait! There is a special price package: all four for only $129! Come to the LocalTown Senior Center on Date.
So, if these tests are so inexpensive and would save so many from stroke, then why isn't it a standard screening test?
I ran to my trusty oracle
and asked, "Ultrasound screening stroke"
This is the first thing it told me: http://www.nurseweek.com/features/99-1/stroke.html
The problems? The skill of the technician is questionable. Speed scans are a dubious way to pick up problems. There can be too many false negatives. And these tests are likely to lead to a visit with the doctor, scary results in hand. Doctor, of course, will be obligated to order more, expensive tests that will serve only to tell the patient that "yes, you are old and your arteries show it, but there isn't much we can do at this point but what we were already doing: regular checkups".
It's telling that one of the few professionals who thought these speed scans might not be bad had a different idea for venue: hospitals could offer them up for free and then profit from the additional tests any positives would generate.
"I shudder to think what would happen to me if I didn't have preventative health screenings. Pick up the phone now and call Life Line Screening...to make an appointment for you and your loved ones," says Olympic champion and breast cancer survivor, Peggy Fleming just before she closed the letter by wishing me the best of health. She was a figure skater who went to the Olympics in 1968, for those who don't know, like I didn't before I consulted the oracle again.
I wonder how much money she got from putting her name on this letter?