Health News Review
  • Apr 10 2012

    Overview wraps on overtesting, overtreatment, and undercooked nutrition news

    The Naked Doctor, aka Justin Coleman, has a mega-wrap of recent news on excessive testing and treatment on the Croakey blog.   And on the Columbia Journalism Review blog, “The Observatory,” Curtis Brainard offers a wrap view of “Nutrition Coverage Under Fire: From red meat to white rice, not enough skepticism of observational studies.“  His lead: “The incessant coverage of nutritional studies that make tenuous …

  • Mar 12 2010

    A week of news on overtesting, overtreatment, need for informed patients

    I was struck by the recurring themes in this week’s health news and planned to blog about it today. But Lindsey Tanner of AP beat me to it with her story, “Experts say US doctors overtesting, overtreating.” She begins: “Too much cancer screening, too many heart tests, too many cesarean sections. A spate of recent reports suggest that too many Americans – maybe even President Barack Obama – are being overtre…

  • Jun 7 2010

    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’ cr…

  • Jun 28 2010

    AP overtreatment series turns to last 6 months of life

    From today’s latest addition to this excellent series: “Americans increasingly are treated to death, spending more time in hospitals in their final days, trying last-ditch treatments that often buy only weeks of time, and racking up bills that have made medical care a leading cause of bankruptcies. More than 80 percent of people who die in the United States have a long, progressive illness such as cancer, heart failure or Alzheimer&…

  • Oct 22 2013

    When doctors don’t discuss harms of screening tests with patients

    Another important paper in the JAMA Internal Medicine “Less is More” series. “Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment: Evaluation of What Physicians Tell Their Patients About Screening Harms,” is by one of my risk communication gurus, Gerd Gigerenzer and colleague Odette Wegwarth. They surveyed 317 US men and women aged 50-69 years, a population with the highest exposure to screening programs. Their summary: Most participants …

  • Nov 10 2013

    NBC races the clock in a race to the bottom with anchormen & prostate cancer screening promotion

    …ing, most experience the same outcome and are, therefore, subjected to the harms of treatment for a much longer period of time. There is convincing evidence that PSA-based screening for prostate cancer results in considerable overtreatment and its associated harms.The USPSTF considered the magnitude of these treatment-associated harms to be at least moderate. Samadi said:  “We’re going to save a lot of men” by promoting th…

  • Jan 22 2013

    UK citizen’s jury advises on communication about the benefits and harms of breast screening

    …ergo a mammogram every three years. The current invitation letters and accompanying leaflets have been heavily criticised for failing to mention potential harms of breast screening, in particular the risk of overdiagnosis and overtreatment ( In response to this criticism, Sir Michael Richards, National Cancer Director for the NHS, asked eminent epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot to chair an independent commi…

  • Jul 25 2010

    Why do Minnesota patients get more low back MRIs?

    …Minnesotans’ bad backs. Snowbeck artfully captures the predictable rationalization and defensive responses coming from locals who don’t like what the data suggest. Because what they suggest is overuse leading to overtreatment. So here’s one attempt a provider makes to deflect the data: “The Medicare billing/claims data, which this report is generated from, would not capture conversations between a patient and provider t…

  • Oct 30 2012

    Were AP and AFP reporting on the same Lancet mammography paper?

    …possibility of overdiagnosis,” said Wilcox, 70, who had a mastectomy several years ago. “I just thought, ‘It’s good for you, so you do it.’ ” Knowing what she knows now about the problem of overtreatment, Wilcox says she still would have chosen to get screened. “But I would have wanted to know enough to make an informed choice for myself.” But the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) report…

  • Jun 14 2010

    The over-radiated American – red, white & blue – and glowing

    Another in the excellent Associated Press “overtreatment” series. Excerpt: “Americans get the most medical radiation in the world, even more than folks in other rich countries. The U.S. accounts for half of the most advanced procedures that use radiation, and the average American’s dose has grown sixfold over the last couple of decades. Too much radiation raises the risk of cancer. That risk is growing because people in …

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