I have heard about this growing pandemic of SOD in many settings. An oncologist recently warned of this crisis, “we are getting so good at slowing the growth of tumors with targeted therapies that patients will end up dying of some other disease.” Likewise, a heart failure physician recently cautioned, “we are getting so good with these new generation left ventricular assist devices that patients end up dying of some other disease.” Infectious disease specialists have been concerned about SOD for years: “we have turned HIV into a chronic disease where patients generally die of some other disease.” Even geriatricians are talking about it, “if we could get a drug to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease then elderly patients would end up dying of some other disease.”
What is this SOD?
In the near future, the single organ doctors (another type of SOD) will be so successful at single organ conditions that there may not even be 10 leading causes of death, but simply one - SOD. We need to reallocate a large portion of the nation’s research agenda to discover the cause and cure of SOD.
When patients choose to have many of these innovative medical therapies, do they realize that they are staring down the barrel of a death by SOD? Perhaps one day we will live in a world where we can say “we have gotten so good at treating SOD that people don’t actually die.” Only then will our health care agenda will be fully realized.