The Associated Press is running an interesting series on overtreatment in our health care system. It’s investigating why we get all of those unnecessary tests and surgeries instead of the best evidence-based care. The News & Observer includes only the end of the article on its website. Here is the entire story, which is needed for context. (I can understand why the N&O would cut it in print, but why truncate the web version?)
Overtreatment is complicated. Even for providers striving to provide the best evidence-based care there are problems. Sometimes, for example, the evidence is mixed or unclear.
At a forum last night a pediatrician also pointed out that all physicians are victims of their training. Its nearly impossible to keep up with all of the latest evidence on every ailment. That means that physicians often fall back on their training or on advice from other doctors. That’s not a bad way to operate, but we need better ways of getting information into the hands of doctors and we need some changes to the way physicians are trained.
Federal health reform will help with new investments in comparative effectiveness research. And the state has formed its own comparative effectiveness task force for examining medical evidence and disseminating that information to providers.
Although it’s a complicated topic, overtreatment is something we must better understand and control if we want to improve the quality of our health care system.