Thursday, October 11, 2012

Unnecessary Care: Are Doctors in Denial and Is Profit Driven Healthcare to Blame?

News Brief by Kathryn Gibb

The United States healthcare system is currently facing the issues of overtreatment and unnecessary care.  Because of excessive healthcare spending and its increasing harmful effects, overtreatment is a growing problem that is only recently getting attention.  Examples of overtreatment range from unnecessary surgery to overuse of testing.  This problem is significant in that approximately 30,000 deaths of Medicare recipients each year and $250-800 billion of health care spending have been attributed to overtreatment.  A group of doctors assembled in Cambridge, Massachusetts in April 2012 to discuss the prevention of unnecessary and excessive care.
The group that gathered in Cambridge came to the conclusion that there were many factors that contributed to the extent of overtreatment in the US.  Such factors include: fear of malpractice, lack of knowledge, misinformed patients, and the profit driven health care system.  Doctors often see it as their duty to extend a patient’s life, without always taking into account whether the treatment is unnecessary or excessive.  With doctors being rewarded monetarily for “doing more,” the concept of “watching and waiting” is often forgotten.  Some suggest that profit driven health care has motivated doctors to continue with procedures despite not always being in the best interest of the patient.  This idea addresses the concern as to whether or not a profit driven health care system is best for patients in the long run.

Lenzer, Jeanne. "Unnecessary Care: Are Doctors in Denial and Is Profit Driven Healthcare to Blame?" British Medical Journal, 2 Oct. 2012. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. .

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