Though touted as perhaps the best in the world, the American medical system is filled with hypocrisies. Our health care is staggeringly expensive, yet one in six Americans has no health insurance. We have some of the most skilled physicians in the world, yet one hundred thousand patients die each year from medical errors. In this gripping, eye-opening book, award-winning journalist Shannon Brownlee takes readers inside the hospital to dismantle some of our most venerated myths about American medicine. Using vivid examples of real patients and physicians, Overtreated debunks the idea that most of medicine is based in sound science, and shows how our health care system delivers huge amounts of unnecessary care that is not only expensive and wasteful but can actually imperil the health of patients.
The interests of politicians and the medical-industrial complex continually trump those of patients, seducing the wealthy with unnecessary procedures and leaving the poor with haphazard access to treatment. Backward economic incentives allow patients with chronic conditions to receive ineffective care, and roll after roll of red tape undermines even the best-intentioned doctors. Tens of thousands of patients die each year from overtreatment. American medicine is in desperate need of fixing.
Nevertheless, Overtreated ultimately conveys a message of hope by reframing the debate over health care reform. Americans worry about rationing–that any effort to rein in the high cost of health care will result in limited access to life-saving treatments. Covering the uninsured seems like an insurmountable problem because it will drive up costs even more. Overtreated offers a way to control costs and cover the uninsured, while simultaneously improving the quality of American medicine. Shannon Brownlee’s humane, intelligent, and penetrating analysis empowers readers to avoid the perils of overtreatment, as well as pointing the way to better health care for everyone.