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Monday, December 11, 2023

Many Americans receive too much health care. That may finally be changing

Elsa Pearson Sites
Originally published 8 Nov 23

The opioid crisis rocked America, bringing addiction and overdose into the spotlight. But it also highlighted the overtreatment of pain: Medical and dental providers alike overprescribed opioids after procedures and for chronic conditions. Out of that overtreatment came an epidemic.

In American health care, overtreatment is common. Recently though, there has been a subtle shift in the opposite direction. It’s possible that “less is more” is catching on.

For many Americans, it can be challenging to even access care: Treatment is expensive, insurance is confusing, and there aren’t enough providers. But ironically, we often use too much care, too.

Now, some providers are asking what the line between necessary and unnecessary really is. The results are encouraging, suggesting that, in some cases, it may be possible to achieve the same health outcomes with less treatment — and fewer side effects, too.

This shift is particularly noticeable in cancer care.

Here is my take:

The article delves into the pervasive issue of overtreatment and overdiagnosis in the healthcare system. It highlights the unintended consequences of modern medical practices, where patients are often subjected to unnecessary tests, procedures, and treatments that may not necessarily improve their health outcomes. The article emphasizes how overtreatment can lead to adverse effects, both physically and financially, for patients, while overdiagnosis can result in the unnecessary burden of managing conditions that may never cause harm. The piece discusses the challenges in striking a balance between providing thorough medical care and avoiding unnecessary interventions, urging a shift toward a more patient-centered and evidence-based approach to reduce harm and improve the overall quality of healthcare.

The author suggests that addressing the issue of overtreatment and overdiagnosis requires a comprehensive reevaluation of medical practices, incorporating shared decision-making between healthcare providers and patients. The article underscores the importance of fostering a healthcare culture that prioritizes the avoidance of unnecessary interventions and aligns treatments with patients' preferences and values. By acknowledging and addressing the challenges associated with overmedicalization, the article advocates for a more thoughtful and personalized approach to healthcare delivery that considers the potential harm of unnecessary treatments and strives to enhance the overall well-being of patients.