“Overkill” – Is overtesting and overdiagnosing patients leading to harm?

This week Dr. Atul Gawande, professor at the department of surgery in Harvard Medical School, wrote an article in The New Yorker, “Overkill”. He discusses potential consequences with ordering too many tests that may be unnecessary and how it contributes to high cost and decreased value of health care. Interestingly, he argues that even the correct diagnosis doesn’t lead to good outcomes all the time. He discusses how “overdiagnosis” can lead to anxiety and stress on the patient’s end and even more tests, procedures, and costs. Dr. Gawande uses examples from his own personal life and colleagues that illustrate how much harm can happen when not appreciating the actual value of the care we provide. He even refers to the Texas town of McAllen and the remarkable change the hospital systems and providers have undergone in a positive way since writing his well publicized article in 2009, “The Cost Conundrum.” Thanks to Dr. Kazi for bringing this to our attention! Check out his article below by clicking on the link.


(Image is illustration by Anna Parini featured in May 11, 2015 issue of The New Yorker)