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Medical advice

Don't discourage blood tests

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I have been a Herald reader for a number of years and one of the columns that I have had reservations about rather frequently is the one penned by Elizabeth Smoots. Some articles in the past I felt were not quite right, but the one from Oct. 23 was downright dangerous. She is suggesting that patients not get blood tests done unless their doctor can convince them it's necessary, and her reasoning is that they are "commonly overused; can be painful and expensive" and she compares them to MRIs, X-rays, and CTs.
I worked for a number of years as a phlebotomist and have had to calm patients who were freaked out that it may hurt. When venipuncture is performed correctly, by a competent individual, it is nearly painless. Most insurance, even Medicare and the various state programs for the poor, cover blood tests. The state mandates blood tests for all newborns to screen for genetic diseases, such as Cystic Fibrosis, and also all kids receiving aid must have a hematocrit test performed regularly, to make sure that they are healthy. Blood tests, as I tell my patients, are the easiest, quickest, cheapest way for your doctor to know how your insides are working; the other options are exploratory surgery or an autopsy. Which do you prefer?
I really think that The Herald should seriously reconsider continuing to publish Smoots' columns.
Rita Olson

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