Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer

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In this gripping, eye-opening book, award-winning journalist Shannon Brownlee takes readers inside the hospital to dismantle some of our most venerated myths about American medicine. Using vivid examples of real patients and physicians, "Overtreated" debunks the idea that most of medicine is based in sound science, and shows how our health care system delivers huge amounts of unnecessary care that is not only expensive and wasteful but can actually imperil the health of patients.

The interests of politicians and the medical-industrial complex continually trump those of patients, seducing the wealthy with unnecessary procedures and leaving the poor with haphazard access to treatment. Backward economic incentives allow patients with chronic conditions to receive ineffective care, and roll after roll of red tape undermines even the best-intentioned doctors.

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Tens of thousands of patients die each year from overtreatment. American medicine is in desperate need of fixing. Nevertheless, "Overtreated" ultimately conveys a message of hope by reframing the debate over health care reform. Americans worry about rationing that any effort to rein in the high cost of health care will result in limited access to life-saving treatments. Covering the uninsured seems like an insurmountable problem because it will drive up costs even more.

Shannon Brownlee's humane, intelligent, and penetrating analysis empowers readers to avoid the perils of overtreatment, as well as pointing the way to better health care for everyone. I hope it is widely read, providing patients with the needed resolve to stop demanding that their physicians prescribe the latest procedure, poultice or potion that marketing and medical journalism foists on them….

Shoring up her conclusions with groundbreaking findings from a group of researchers at Dartmouth, Brownlee also points the way to workable solutions. By piling on facts, Brownlee shows why Americans spend so much on health care yet are in measurably poorer shape than the residents of just about every other developed nation. If you have insurance you will certainly get too much health care, and in this situation more is definitely not better.

Shannon Brownlee, Special Lecturer

Shannon Brownlee's book, Overtreated , will open your eyes to the problems and point the way to the answers. Patients, physicians, and policy makers would do well to consider her evidence as an important prescription for reform. In gripping detail, Shannon Brownlee explains how well-insured Americans get much more high-tech medical care -- CT scans, angiograms, and the like -- than they need, enriching the hospitals and doctors who provide it, but driving up the overall costs of health care and often endangering patients' lives. Brownlee clearly shows in this important book that overtreatment, like undertreatment, is very bad medicine.

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