Screen for Hep C
Posted on: 9/25/2015

Submitted to the State Journal-Register

September 25, 2015

To the Editor:

Patients born between the years 1945-1965 should be screened for hepatitis C.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say so, as does the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Both of these public health entities have published clinical guidelines identifying baby boomers as being most at risk for this blood condition that in some cases leads to chronic liver disease and death.

Earlier this year, members of the General Assembly passed legislation  mandating physicians offer a hepatitis C screening to all patients born during the high-risk years. The Illinois State Medical Society believes that legislating any medical guideline, of which there are more than 7,500, is inappropriate, because guidelines evolve and change; what represents the state of the art today may seem like ancient medicine in a few short years.  Codifying treatments into law requires the government to change the law when medical science advances.  This approach is impractical and not in the best interest of patients. Legislating guidelines inserts the law between doctors and patients.  It’s a step towards stopping you and your doctor from deciding what is right for you.

As a result of our concern, ISMS opposed this bill, which was vetoed by Governor Rauner. But rather than looking backward, ISMS intends to move forward, and will continue our efforts promoting increased awareness and use of the hepatitis C screening protocols. Our focus will continue to be what it always has been: getting patients the medical care that best meets their unique needs.

Scott Cooper, MD  
President, Illinois State Medical Society

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