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

Shannon Brownlee, Author . Bloomsbury $25.95 (343p) ISBN 978-1-58234-580-2

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 . (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/23/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-59691-729-3
Paperback - 350 pages - 978-1-58234-579-6
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