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    Wednesday, June 17, 2009

    BOOKS TO READ ON THE BEACH

    BOOKS TO READ ON THE BEACH SO YOU CAN SMARTLY CONVERSE AT LIBERAL DOCTOR HATING COCKTAIL PARTIES THIS FALL – OR READ THIS AND SAY YOU DID

    Guy Clifton, a neurosurgery professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, argues in his book Flatlined: Resuscitating American Medicine that there are two ways to control healthcare costs: price controls with rationing (used by most industrialized nations and abhorred in the U.S.) or increased efficiency. Clifton points out that the cost of healthcare is so high that it is affordable only if someone else is paying for it, such as government or employers. The "haves" consume the healthcare of the "have nots," to the detriment of both. An estimated 30,000 patients die each year from overtreatment. He estimates that 50 percent of healthcare is a waste, if you factor in excessive medical care and patient health behavior.

    In The Great American Heart Hoax: Lifesaving Advice Your Doctor Should Tell You About Heart Disease Prevention (But Probably Never Will), cardiologist Michael Ozner claims that the annual 1.5 million U.S. angioplasties and coronary bypass surgeries, for which the price tag is $60 billion, neither save lives nor prevent heart attacks. He cites Harvard research that 70 to 90 percent of those procedures are unnecessary.

    The U.S. is the only industrialized nation not to guarantee healthcare to its citizens. We spend more than twice as much per capita as any other country, yet if longevity is the criteria comparatively we do not live longer lives. Medical professor Nortin Hadler, author of Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America, says healthcare interventions rarely, if ever, improve longevity. He defines two types of medical malpractice. Type I malpractice: Doing something medically necessary unacceptably poorly. Type II malpractice: Doing something unnecessary very well.

    Journalist Shannon Brownlee, author of Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, gives partial credit of overtreatment to Americans’ blind faith in technology and science. About 34 percent agreed with the statement in a Harvard survey that modern medicine can cure almost any illness with the right technology. However, Brownlee points out that 25 to 40 percent of autopsies show that patients were being treated for the wrong diagnosis, which is virtually unchanged from 1910.

    Physician Dennis Gottfried, who wrote Too Much Medicine: A Doctor’s Prescription for Better and More Affordable Health Care, wants to ban direct-to-consumer advertising for medications and aggressive promotion of pharmaceuticals to physicians because both result in prescription of more expensive, less effective drugs. About 31 percent of patients who see these advertisements ask about the drug, and a significant portion of them want it even though they are clueless to its effects. Unfortunately, he says,a significant percentage of doctors comply because they do not want to lose a fully insured patient.

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