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

by Shannon Brownlee (Author)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Contrary to Americans' common belief that in health care more is
more—that more spending, drugs and technology means better care—this lucid
report posits that less is actually better. Medical journalist Brownlee
acknowledges that state-of-the-art medicine can improve care and save lives. But
technology and drugs are misused and overused, she argues, citing a 2003 study
of one million Medicare recipients, published in the Annals of Internal
Medicine, which showed that patients in hospitals that spent the most were 2% to
6% more likely to die than patients in hospitals that spent the least.
Additionally, she says, billions per year are spent on unnecessary tests and
drugs and on specialists who are rewarded more for some procedures than for more
appropriate ones. The solution, Brownlee writes, already exists: the Veterans
Health Administration outperforms the rest of the American health care system on
multiple measures of quality. The main obstacle to replicating this model
nationwide, according to the author, is a powerful cartel of organizations, from
hospitals to drug companies, that stand to lose in such a system. Many of
Brownlee's points have been much covered, but her incisiveness and proposed
solution can add to the health care debate heated up by the release of Michael Moore's Sicko.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* Award-winning health and medicine writer Brownlee notes that
Americans spend between one-fifth and one-third of health-care dollars on
unnecessary treatments, medications, devices, and tests. What's worse, there are
an estimated 30,000 deaths per annum caused by this unnecessary care. The reason
for what amounts to a national delusion that more care is better care is rooted,
she says, in a build-it-and-they-will-come paradigm that rewards doctors and
hospitals for how much care they deliver rather than how effective it is. In a
step-by-step deconstruction of America's improvident health-care system,
Brownlee sheds light on events, attitudes, and legislation in the twentieth
century's latter half that led to this economic nightmare. With the skill of a
crack prosecuting attorney, she cites specific cases of physician and hospital
fiscal abuse. Her aim is broad but not scattershot as she hits not just docs and
hospitals but private insurers, Medicare, patients, medical device
manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies by, for instance, quoting a
pharmaceutical salesperson who confesses financing a physician's swimming pool
to get the doc to write more prescriptions. She is not all bad news, though, for
she posits models that could be adapted to create a nationwide health-care
system that conceivably could staunch the current fiscal hemorrhaging.

Product Details

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition edition (September 18, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1582345805



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