-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The basic assumption in
U.S. health care that more is better is being challenged by a group
of doctors who put the cost of unnecessary care at as much as $800
billion a year, according to a new report.
The report, which was published Oct. 2 in the
BMJ, estimated that overly aggressive treatment causes
30,000 deaths among Medicare recipients in the United States each
year and that unnecessary interventions account for 10 percent to
30 percent of health care spending ($250 billion to $800 billion) a
Examples include the overuse of imaging technology and screening
tests, along with high numbers of questionable surgeries.
Many doctors have long warned about the dangers of
overtreatment, but the growing awareness of the unsustainability of
health care spending has brought the issue to the attention of
politicians and the media, the report states.
Malpractice fears, biased research, patient demand, rapid
adoption of unproven technology and the failure to fully inform
patients about the potential harms of elective treatments are among
the reasons for the growing problem of overtreatment, the group of
doctors from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada noted
in a journal news release.
The group also pointed to the way doctors are trained and paid
in the United States as major factors, and believe that significant
changes in how doctors are paid are needed to correct the problem
But changes to the health care system would face considerable
opposition from the health care industry and the general public,
who believe that any effort to reduce overtreatment is simply a
scheme to ration care, the doctors said.
"Rationing means that you are limiting necessary care. What we are proposing is limiting unnecessary care -- harmful care," said Dr. Diane Meier, a professor of geriatrics and internal medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in the report.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has more
health care costs.
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