The Standard of Care Catastrophe

The latest Big Thing in medicine is “Standard of Care.” It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? The name alone makes you believe that no matter what doctor you go to, there’s a Standard of Care ensuring a quality outcome. What a comforting thought.

Clever name, that. The sad truth is Standard of Care has nothing to do good medicine or quality outcomes. It’s pharmaceutical/insurance-company speak for a one-size-fits-all system intended to minimize costs, maximize control and bulletproof doctors against charges of malpractice–whatever happens to the patient. It has little, if anything, to do with healing; in fact, it could reasonably be called the anti-healing standard of care.

Let me illustrate with Standard of Care’s impact on my life.

I have panhypopituitarism, which means my pituitary gland–the master of my universe–is shot. The pituitary gland, along with the hypothalamus, controls the endocrine system, that is, the thyroid which controls metabolism, the adrenals which control stress, the pancreas which controls blood sugar, the thymus which controls the immune system and the ovaries/testes which control reproduction and general well-being. Etc.

As you can see, panhypopituitarism is not an insignificant problem. Symptoms abound–brain fog, extreme fatigue, coma-like sleep, thinning hair, weight gain, and on, and on–adding up a veritable tsunami of symptoms.

And how, you ask, does Standard of Care (SoC) handle this life-limiting mess? By doing the side-step-and-deny shuffle.

First, hypopituitarism. There seems to be no inexpensive and effective test for pituitary problems Symptoms, viewed as unscientific, a probably imaginary report from the patient, don’t count in the SoC universe. So, given no cheap test and a disbelief in symptoms, doctors simply say I don’t have it. No test equals no problem. Meanwhile, the highly regarded Pituitary Network Association proved that one person in five has pituitary problems, which problems, needless to say, are ignored. Patients are left to wonder what bus hit them.

Then there’s the thyroid. It’s estimated that up to 40% of the population has underactive thyroid glands. Now here, SoC does allow testing–with blood tests that leave a lot to be desired. However, effective treatment, i.e., a natural, bio-identical medicine such as Armour Thyroid, isn’t allowed. Instead, they push a synthetic thyroid medication that doesn’t work–except to cause osteoporosis.

Another part of the endocrine system is the adrenal glands. The SoC approved blood tests are worthless, while the accurate saliva test is banned. A few years ago, an adrenal blood test pronounced me to be fine, while the adrenal saliva test proved I was in adrenal failure–which fit the symptoms, that is, if you want to stoop to anything as unscientific as symptoms. Of course, SoC won’t order hydrocortisone, the proven treatment, in any case, so test or no test, you won’t get any help.

And so it goes. If you don’t have endocrine problems, you may think I exaggerate, but anybody suffering through this mess will emphatically assure you I’m not.

Despite patient distress, doctors don’t go beyond Standard of Care. Some doctors are happy to go along, what with minimum effort and big rewards for not rocking the boat. But others go along because they have no choice. If they don’t follow Standard of Care, they can lose their license to practice medicine–even if they heal every patient that comes through the door and have no complaints against them.

So I’m left to doctor myself. But, you know, I’m making it. A whole lot more than just making it, in fact. A fine doctor, the late Robert Hamburg of Detroit, diagnosed my problem some years ago. Knowing the diagnosis made it possible to study what I was up against, and my years of research unearthed information that makes the difference.

It would be wonderful to have a doctor who cared about whether I felt good or not and who could act on my behalf, but I’m not going to roll over and play dead because the docs have the Standard of Care burr under their saddles.

But Standard of Care hurts everybody. It literally kills people, and it may well kill you. If you ever get a chance to vote, argue or march against Standard of Care, do it. Don’t hesitate for a minute. Help free good doctors to practice real medicine again.

About the author: Bette Dowdell is not a doctor, nor does she purport to be one. She’s a patient who’s been studying the endocrine system and successfully handling her own endocrine problems for more than 30 years. She offers introductory teleseminars and an in-depth12-month subscription program, “Moving to Health” about living well with endocrine issues. She explains how the endocrine system works–or doesn’t, discusses what things in the environment–food, cosmetics, water, etc.–damage the endocrine system, suggests vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs and super foods that help, and answers questions. Subscribe to her free, weekly e-zine at

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