Health Column: Medical Interventions to Avoid in 2014 |

Health Column: Medical Interventions to Avoid in 2014

Phil Mohler, M.D.
Free Press Health Columnist
Doctor holding out stethescope with focus on object
Getty Images/Wavebreak Media | Wavebreak Media

Physicians are indoctrinated early on to be aggressive with our care. We want to help people — test them, medicate them and cut on them!

The year 2013 presented some exciting breakthroughs for those patients and physicians who believe in, practice, and want to live with less medical care.

Less is often better.


No pap smears if you are under 21 or over 65. And for those in between, have routine pap smears every three years, rather than annually.

Young women don’t need a pelvic exam or pap smear to obtain birth control pills or to be tested for chlamydia.

You do not need a pap smear if you have had a hysterectomy for non-cancer reasons.

Please have the very important discussion with your physician — “Do I want/need a screening mammogram: Now? When? Ever?


For diabetics not on insulin or other drugs that drive blood sugars low, there is no reason to do daily home blood-sugar testing. This is an expensive ($1 a strip), useless testing.


Be wary of and engage your physician about these drugs:

Influenza has arrived. Tamiflu (oseltamivir) may shorten the course of your flu symptoms by 20 hours, but it will not protect you from pneumonia or hospitalization. Shame on Pharma for not publishing the eight well-conducted studies that revealed what a lousy, expensive ($11/ pill) drug it is. Plus. there is a 10-percent chance that Tamiflu will make you vomit for 20 hours.

The American Academy of Family Practice is again reminding us not to use cold medicines in kids under four. Cold meds are not helpful for most kids and carry significant risks. Don’t coerce your physician into prescribing antibiotics. They do not work on viruses and will give you diarrhea and drug resistant bacteria!

Taking testosterone won’t fix your erectile dysfunction, particularly if your testosterone level is normal. Testosterone is fraught with cardiovascular side effects.

In kids ages 2-12 with non-severe middle ear infections, don’t push for antibiotics. Most children with otitis media will do fine without antibiotics. What they need is treatment for the ear pain.

The recent guidelines from the American Heart Association point out that drugs like Zetia and Vytorin may lower your cholesterol, but do not offer any protection for your heart or brain. If you are buying these drugs, talk to your doctor about stopping them.


Avoid PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) for screening for prostate cancer. Its harms far outweigh its benefits. Even urologists are starting to appreciate the magnitude of the evidence for what a crummy test this is.

Don’t respond to newspaper ads for ultra-sound screening of your belly, legs, or neck. These tests are more likely to come back with falsely positive results than true disease, and are sure to create anxiety, more tests and medically induced poverty.

GJ Free Press health columnist Dr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 39 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for both Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans. Email him at

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