Ethics in Medicine

Overtreatment Is Taking a Harmful Toll

Kristen Sparrow • August 28, 2012

We have discussed overtreatment on this blog and in my newsletters.  This is just one more article highlighting this problem, all the more tragic since there are many people out there going without MUCH required treatment.
Overtreatment Is Taking a Harmful Toll
When it comes to medical care, many patients and doctors believe more is better.
But an epidemic of overtreatment – too many scans, too many blood tests, too many procedures – is costing the nation’s health care system at least $210 billion a year, according to the Institute of Medicine, and taking a human toll in pain, emotional suffering, severe complications and even death.
“What people are not realizing is that sometimes the test poses harm,” said Shannon Brownlee, acting director of the health policy program at the New America Foundation and the author of “Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer.”
“Sometimes the test leads you down a path, a therapeutic cascade, where you start to tumble downstream to more and more testing, and more and more invasive testing, and possibly even treatment for things that should be left well enough alone.”…