AP: Overtreatment – more medical care isn't always better

The Associated Press, which sometimes may be viewed as only reacting to breaking news of the day, today published a timely and timeless feature explaining:

“Anywhere from one-fifth to nearly one-third of the tests and treatments we get are estimated to be unnecessary, and avoidable care is costly in more ways than the bill: It may lead to dangerous side effects.”

It’s timely because, on the heels of the New York Times’ criticism of Dartmouth Atlas methodology, it refers to Atlas data that shows that:

“.. in parts of the country, Medicare pays double or triple the price to treat people with the same illnesses. The differences are not fully explained by big cities’ higher cost of living or populations that are poorer, older or sicker. How much care someone gets is a main reason, yet Dartmouth’s data shows people in pricier areas don’t necessarily fare better.”

It’s also timely because, on the heels of a study published in Health Affairs that showed that many people surveyed thought more care meant higher-quality, better care, this story led with:

“More medical care won’t necessarily make you healthier — it may make you sicker. It’s an idea that technology-loving Americans find hard to believe.”

Nice team effort by AP with contributions from Lauran Neergaard, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Lindsey Tanner and Marilynn Marchione.

(Disclosure: the story quotes Dr. Michael Barry, president of the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, which supports my HealthNewsReview.org project.)


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