Health Care Waste: Useless Medical Procedures
Highlights summarized here:
From a report that appears in the August issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Out of 363 studies reported in the NEJM from 2001-2010, 146 found that the current drugs or procedures were no better – or even worse – than those previously used.
Over 40% of “established practices studied” were ineffective or harmful
Just 38% were beneficial.
Remaining 22% were unknown.
Examples of harm:
— routine use of hormone therapy in postmenopausal women;
— high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant for breast cancer
— intensive lowering of glucose levels of intensive care patients (which increased mortality and conferred no benefit)
The article quotes a doctor who says that procedures often seem to “make sense” despite evidence of benefit. For instance, if you have cholesterol-clogged arteries, it seems reasonable to open them up – but this procedures doesn’t increase survival.
The advice to patients: “You shouldn’t ask how does it work, but whether it works at all.”
Okay, guys, we get it. Now just how many of us are going to get booted from a doctor’s practice when we attempt to put this in practice?