Ethics in Medicine

From SF Chronicle: Rethinking overtreatment and screening

Kristen Sparrow • September 14, 2012

Readers of this blog are very familiar with this topic.  I think it’s very important, mainly because one of our first responsibilities as physicians is to “Do No Harm.”  So when either as part of well meaning policy, or profit driven plan, outcomes deteriorate and harms inflicted, this is a big deal because it can affect many many people.
I’ve discussed Rita Redberg before having heard her speak at a UCSF conference.  She also is involved in the “Less Is More” column in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The SF Chronicle article is here.  There will be a lot of familiar data in the article if you’re a regular reader of the blog.  Two things really stood out to me, however.  1.  Overdoses of radiation, which is rampant in the U.S.  may be the leading cause of breast cancer?? (I so did not know that.)  2. To quote Dr. Redberg “not only does it (over screening and treatment) lead to needless suffering and harm, but it s also hard to ignore the cost of waste in our health care system, which is estimated to exceed $750 billion nationally. That’s enough to pay two years of college tuition and fees for every American between the ages of 18 and 24.”  3.  There are new initiatives to scrutinize patterns in overusage and treatment.  For example in Clearlake, the patients are 5 times as likely to undergo elective invasive cardiac treatment than patients in Sonoma.