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Overtreatment: When Less Is More In Medicine

The Associated Press recent article “Overtreated: More medical care isn’t always better” reiterated a commonly known fact which is not understood by the public. This problem of doing more and yet getting little in return is a common issue which plagues the U.S. healthcare system and was illustrated quite convincingly by Shannon Brownlee’s book. Americans get more procedures, interventions, imaging, and tests but aren’t any healthier.

In fact they are often worse off. Too many unnecessary back surgeries. Too many antibiotics for viral infections, which aren’t at all impacted by these anti-bacterial therapies. Too many heart stents which typically are best used when someone is actually having a heart attack. Research shows that those that are treated with medications do just as well. As all patients with cardiac stents know, they also need to be on the same medications as well.

Eliminating unnecessary treatments is a good thing, particularly when it is based on science. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

Health Journalism Gems You Shouldn’t Miss

A couple of health journalism gems you shouldn’t miss just because they were published over the holiday weekend:

Natasha Singer of the New York Times had an important piece, “When Patients Meet Online, Are There Side Effects?,” about privacy concerns when social networking sites like and offer online communities for patients and collect members’ health data for research purposes.

John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel published another in his “Side Effects” series on conflicts of interest in healthcare. This one was about doctors vouching for the drug Multaq for treating atrial fibrillation without ever having seen all of the data.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune began a “Too Much Medicine” series. Health editor Dave Hage informs that they’ve been working on this project for nearly a year with plans for a few more installments in coming months, each covering different ailments and procedures that are over-used or under-proven. (Unfortunately, I think the series is only available in the print editions.)

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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