You don’t need me to tell you this, but go read Atul Gawande’s latest piece

As if it wouldn’t be awesome. It’s on the overuse of unnecessary care, which is hurting us physicall, emotionally, and financially. Regular readers of this blog should be totally aware of this, of course, but you’ll enjoy it anyway:

The researchers called it “low-value care.” But, really, it was no-value care. They studied how often people received one of twenty-six tests or treatments that scientific and professional organizations have consistently determined to have no benefit or to be outright harmful. Their list included doing an EEG for an uncomplicated headache (EEGs are for diagnosing seizure disorders, not headaches), or doing a CT or MRI scan for low-back pain in patients without any signs of a neurological problem (studies consistently show that scanning such patients adds nothing except cost), or putting a coronary-artery stent in patients with stable cardiac disease (the likelihood of a heart attack or death after five years is unaffected by the stent). In just a single year, the researchers reported, twenty-five to forty-two per cent of Medicare patients received at least one of the twenty-six useless tests and treatments.

If I had to pick my top three topics that I write about, this is one. It’s Choosing Wisely. It’s overscreening. It’s waste. Atul pretty much hits them all. He even hits on arthroscopic knee surgery, which is one of my favorite hobby horses. We beat on this stuff all the time, but it’s pieces like this that likely move the needle. Maybe people will start to notice.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Atul Gawande is a national treasure. I need to say things like that out loud periodically, so my jealousy doesn’t overwhelm me.

Go read.


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