Are today’s doctors making you sicker?

Dr Eftychios Voridis, an emeritus professor of cardiology at the University of Athens, sometimes tells his patients to see the doctor only as a last resort. That way, he says, they won’t fall prey to the vested interests of the many parties involved in the entangled Greek medical system. Transforming otherwise healthy people into potentially sick patients suggests other forces at work in the country’s healthcare system. Voridis says doctors should focus on fighting illnesses, not sending patients on labyrinthine journeys of tests and unnecessary treatments. For instance, millions of people are diagnosed as suffering from pre-hypertension, living with a pressure-gauge in their hands and daily doses of medication. Meanwhile, people’s cholesterol levels are falling yet the number of people receiving treatment for them is rising. Voridis says a doctor’s career is no longer based on clinical experience and skills in treating patients but by the number of studies conducted, conferences attended and papers published. In the area of cardiology alone, 50 conferences and seminars are held annually. These are costly events covered by industries that want to promote their drugs and other products. As a result, he says, doctors can be almost brainwashed and feel beholden to the pharmaceutical industries promoting these drugs. Kathimerini spoke to Voridis about this latest development in medicine.