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Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer

by

Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“My choice for the economics book of the year…its the best description I have yet read of a huge economic problem that we know how to solve—but is so often misunderstood.”—David Leonhardt, New York Times

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. Brownlee dissects what she calls “the medical-industrial complex” and lays bare the backward economic incentives embedded in our system, revealing a stunning portrait of the care we now receive.

Nevertheless, Overtreated ultimately conveys a message of hope by reframing the debate over health care reform. It offers a way to control costs and cover the uninsured while simultaneously improving the quality of American medicine. Shannon Brownlees 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.

With a new afterword offering practical advice to patients on how to navigate the health care system.

Shannon Brownlees stories and essays about medicine, health care, and biotechnology have appeared in such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Time. Born and raised in Honolulu, she holds a masters degree in biology from the University of California. She is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. Brownlee lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and son.

Award-winning journalist Shannon Brownlee takes readers inside the hospital to examine the hypocrisies and dismantle some of our most venerated myths about the American medical system. Using the stories 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 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 red tape undermines even the best-intentioned doctors. Tens of thousands of patients die each year from overtreatment.

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 proposes a way to control costs and cover the uninsured, while simultaneously improving the quality of American medicine. Shannon Brownlees 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.

"My choice for the economics book of the year . . . It's the best description I have yet read of a huge economics problem that we know how to solve—but is so often misunderstood."—David Leonhardt, The New York Times
"My choice for the economics book of the year . . . It's the best description I have yet read of a huge economics problem that we know how to solve—but is so often misunderstood."—David Leonhardt, The New York Times

"In her persuasive Overtreated, Shannon Brownlee . . . argues that too much medicine—for many patients, much of the time—is doing serious damage to the nation's health, while also costing us an arm and a leg . . . Brownlee's larger point that we should try to cut back on unnecessary care is well taken, as are her suggestions for change, including: better coordination among doctors, a restructuring of incentives to favor preventive care, and better information for patients."—Amanda Schaffer, The Washington Post

 
"Her argument is compelling . . . [a] worthwhile and thought-provoking volume."—The Boston Globe

"A compelling and damning indictment of the way health care is organized and delivered in the richest country in the world. If Michael Moore's film Sicko exposed viewers to the excruciating dilemmas faced by people who can't access American medicine, Overtreated provides the flip side, with compelling stories of people who are injured or die because they get too much of a good thing."—Canadian Medical Association Journal

"Overtreated is a necessary, if bitter tonic . . . we desperately need an unbiased examination of the mess we're in and some substantive ideas for fixing it. Overtreated delivers on both counts . . . Brownlee uncovers some truly amazing facts [and] has given us a thoughtful push in the right direction."—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

“This book is written for a sophisticated general audience. I hope it is widely read, providing patients with the needed resolve to stop demanding that their physicians prescribe the latest procedure, poultice or potion that marketing and medical journalism foists on them . . . Brownlees presentation is brilliant journalism.”—Journal of the American Medical Association

“The cardiologist who found blocked arteries in nearly every patient . . . the brilliant breast cancer cure that too often killed patients . . . Brownlee uses anecdotes of medical misdeeds, mistakes, and misunderstandings to illustrate a surprising truth at the heart of American healthcare: More isn't necessarily better. Shoring up her conclusions with groundbreaking findings from a group of researchers at Dartmouth, Brownlee also points the way to workable solutions.”—O, The Oprah Magazine

 
“Exhaustive takedown of the U.S. health-care system . . . Overtreated eclipses Michael Moores reporting and eschews his polemics. By piling on facts, Brownlee shows why Americans spend so much on health care yet are in measurably poorer shape than the residents of just about every other developed nation."—Conde Nast Portfolio

“Alarming and intriguing . . . Brownlee gives each of her theme-based chapters an emotional core by rolling out a story.”—Bloomberg.com

 
"Overtreated should be read by anyone interested in health case economics."—Tyler Cowen, marginalrevolution.com

“Finally, someone willing to expose the dirty little secret of US health care. If you have insurance you will certainly get too much health care, and in this situation more is definitely not better. Shannon Brownlee's book, Overtreated, will open your eyes to the problems and point the way to the answers.”—Susan Love, M.D., author of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book, and President and Medical Director, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation

 
“In the blizzard of books on our healthcare system, Shannon Brownlees is unique in its provocative argument that individuals and the nation suffer from misguided and costly treatments. Patients, physicians, and policy makers would do well to consider her evidence as an important prescription for reform.”—Jerome Groopman, M.D., Harvard Medical School and author of How Doctors Think
 
"This book could save your life.  In gripping detail, Shannon Brownlee explains how well-insured Americans get much more high-tech medical care—CT scans, angiograms, and the like—than they need, enriching the hospitals and doctors who provide it, but driving up the overall costs of health care and often endangering patients' lives.  Brownlee clearly shows in this important book that overtreatment, like undertreatment, is very bad medicine."—Marcia Angell, senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School and former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine
 
Overtreated will scare you. And that's a good thing. In this vivid and arresting tour of medicine in America, Shannon Brownlee shows why the care that is supposed to make us healthier frequently makes us sicker instead. At a time when health care reform is atop the political agenda again, this book should be required reading—not only for every lawmaker and medical professional, but for every voter and patient, too.”—Jonathan Cohn, author of Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis—and the People Who Pay the Price
 
“With her razor-sharp analyses, Shannon Brownlee disentangles the messy paradoxes of today's health care mess and turns every assumption on its head. She will forever change the way you view health care while restoring your hope for its future. This book is an important read for anyone interested in health care reform, which, in this day and age of overtreatment, should be all of us.”—Pauline Chen, author of Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality

"Journalist Brownlee blames America's sky-high healthcare costs on expensive treatments imposed by doctors on patients all too ready to accept or even demand them. At a time when presidential candidates are asked how they plan to pay for universal healthcare coverage, the author provides reams of data to back up her contention that the real issue is the 'dysfunctional, unfair and spectacularly expensive system' we're already paying for. Unnecessary care is rampant, she concludes. Doctors are coaxed, conditioned or warned that they must prescribe drugs or tests, refer to specialists, put patients in the hospital, operate. If this excessively aggressive approach involves a new drug, device or machine, so much the better: Medicare or another insurer will pay generously for high-ticket items, but not for prevention and advice. Some patients benefit; many do not. Medicare patients living in high-cost, high-care regions are no healthier than their peers in lower-cost, less-care regions. For this conclusion, as for others in the book, Brownlee relies on data from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, an annual compendium that tallies who gets what procedure for what ailment in each region of the country. Overtreatment is a national problem, the author states. Precipitating factors include aggressive physicians; litigious patients ready to sue over any omission; and hospital administrators adding (and filling) surgical wings or ICUs to pay for emergency departments that operate at a loss. Also contributing to the mess are direct advertising to consumers and control of clinical trials by Big Pharma, insufficiently monitored by weak federal agencies charged with regulation and with reviewing the evidence of what works. What to do? Brownlee points to the Veterans Health Administration, which rose from rock bottom in the mid-1990s to become a model health-care provider. Other institutions could achieve similar results, she believes, by implementing a strategy of 'CARE': coordination, accountability, electronic medical records and evidence. A bombshell of a book: must reading for consumers, their political representatives and all those White House contenders."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

 
"With the skill of a crack prosecuting attorney . . . Brownlee sheds light on events, attitudes, and legislation in the twentieth century's latter half that lead to this economics nightmare."—Booklist (starred review)

"Readers who have grieved over the death of a friend from a minor surgical procedure or agonized over the hospital care of their elderly parents will experience the shock of recognition in science journalist Brownlee's book. She has mined medical journals, reports from authoritative health care organizations, and troubling personal narratives by doctors and patients to present a stunning but reasoned picture of the out-of-control, inefficient, and often ineffective U.S. health care system. Compared with those who live in other First World countries, Americans see more specialists, receive more days of hospital care, and undergo far more diagnostic procedures. Paradoxically, the result of this surfeit is frequently a less favorable—if not fatal—medical outcome. Stories of the perverse economic incentives of Medicare and private health insurers, poor oversight on the part of the Food and Drug Administration, and common medical procedures based on no more scientific evidence than bloodletting are interwoven in a compelling call for patient-centered, evidence-based health care—not a modest proposal. More optimistically, Brownlee points to institutions that already use these measures, including, surprisingly, the Veterans Health Administration. This rousing call for change, accessible to general readers, is recommended for all libraries.”—Library Journal

 
"Contrary to Americans' common belief that in health care more is more—that more spending, drugs and technology means better care—this lucid report posits that less is actually better. Medical journalist Brownlee acknowledges that state-of-the-art medicine can improve care and save lives. But technology and drugs are misused and overused, she argues, citing a 2003 study of one million Medicare recipients, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which showed that patients in hospitals that spent the most 'were 2% to 6% more likely to die than patients in hospitals that spent the least.' Additionally, she says, billions per year are spent on unnecessary tests and drugs and on specialists who are rewarded more for some procedures than for more appropriate ones. The solution, Brownlee writes, already exists: the Veterans Health Administration outperforms the rest of the American health care system on multiple measures of quality. The main obstacle to replicating this model nationwide, according to the author, is a powerful cartel of organizations, from hospitals to drug companies, that stand to lose in such a system . . . her incisiveness and proposed solution can add to the health care debate heated up by the release of Michael Moore's Sicko."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Synopsis:

My choice for the economics book of the year...it's the best description I have yet read of a huge economic problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, New York Times

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. Brownlee dissects what she calls the medical-industrial complex and lays bare the backward economic incentives embedded in our system, revealing a stunning portrait of the care we now receive.

Nevertheless, Overtreated ultimately conveys a message of hope by reframing the debate over health care reform. It 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.

With a new afterword offering practical advice to patients on how to navigate the health care system.

Shannon Brownlee's stories and essays about medicine, health care, and biotechnology have appeared in such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Time. Born and raised in Honolulu, she holds a master's degree in biology from the University of California. She is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. Brownlee lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and son. Award-winning journalist Shannon Brownlee takes readers inside the hospital to examine the hypocrisies and dismantle some of our most venerated myths about the American medical system. Using the stories 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 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 red tape undermines even the best-intentioned doctors. Tens of thousands of patients die each year from overtreatment.

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 proposes 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. My choice for the economics book of the year . . . It's the best description I have yet read of a huge economics problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, The New York Times My choice for the economics book of the year . . . It's the best description I have yet read of a huge economics problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, The New York Times

In her persuasive Overtreated, Shannon Brownlee . . . argues that too much medicine--for many patients, much of the time--is doing serious damage to the nation's health, while also costing us an arm and a leg . . . Brownlee's larger point that we should try to cut back on unnecessary care is well taken, as are her suggestions for change, including: better coordination among doctors, a restructuring of incentives to favor preventive care, and better information for patients.--Amanda Schaffer, The Washington Post Her argument is compelling . . . a] worthwhile and thought-provoking volume.--The Boston Globe

A compelling and damning indictment of the way health care is organized and delivered in the richest country in the world. If Michael Moore's film Sicko exposed viewers to the excruciating dilemmas faced by people who can't access American medicine, Overtreated provides the flip side, with compelling stories of people who are injured or die because they get too much of a good thing.--Canadian Medical Association Journal

Overtreated is a necessary, if bitter tonic . . . we desperately need an unbiased examination of the mess we're in and some substantive ideas for fixing it. Overtreated delivers on both counts . . . Brownlee uncovers some truly amazing facts and] has given us a thoughtful push in the right direction.--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

This book is written for a sophisticated general audience. I hope it is widely read, providing patients with the needed resolve to stop demanding that their physicians prescribe the latest procedure, poultice or potion that marketing and medical journalism foists on them . . . Brownlee's presentation is brilliant journalism.--Journal of the American Medical Association

The cardiologist who found blocked arteries in nearly every patient . . . the brilliant breast cancer cure that too often killed patients . . . Brownlee uses anecdotes of medical misdeeds, mistakes, and misunderstandings to illustrate a surprising truth at the heart of American healthcare: More isn't necessarily better. Shoring up her conclusions with groundbreaking findings from

Synopsis:

My choice for the economics book of the year...it's the best description I have yet read of a huge economic problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, New York Times

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. Brownlee dissects what she calls the medical-industrial complex and lays bare the backward economic incentives embedded in our system, revealing a stunning portrait of the care we now receive.

Nevertheless, Overtreated ultimately conveys a message of hope by reframing the debate over health care reform. It 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.

With a new afterword offering practical advice to patients on how to navigate the health care system.

Shannon Brownlee's stories and essays about medicine, health care, and biotechnology have appeared in such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Time. Born and raised in Honolulu, she holds a master's degree in biology from the University of California. She is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. Brownlee lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and son. Award-winning journalist Shannon Brownlee takes readers inside the hospital to examine the hypocrisies and dismantle some of our most venerated myths about the American medical system. Using the stories 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 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 red tape undermines even the best-intentioned doctors. Tens of thousands of patients die each year from overtreatment.

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 proposes 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. My choice for the economics book of the year . . . It's the best description I have yet read of a huge economics problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, The New York Times My choice for the economics book of the year . . . It's the best description I have yet read of a huge economics problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, The New York Times

In her persuasive Overtreated, Shannon Brownlee . . . argues that too much medicine--for many patients, much of the time--is doing serious damage to the nation's health, while also costing us an arm and a leg . . . Brownlee's larger point that we should try to cut back on unnecessary care is well taken, as are her suggestions for change, including: better coordination among doctors, a restructuring of incentives to favor preventive care, and better information for patients.--Amanda Schaffer, The Washington Post Her argument is compelling . . . a] worthwhile and thought-provoking volume.--The Boston Globe

A compelling and damning indictment of the way health care is organized and delivered in the richest country in the world. If Michael Moore's film Sicko exposed viewers to the excruciating dilemmas faced by people who can't access American medicine, Overtreated provides the flip side, with compelling stories of people who are injured or die because they get too much of a good thing.--Canadian Medical Association Journal

Overtreated is a necessary, if bitter tonic . . . we desperately need an unbiased examination of the mess we're in and some substantive ideas for fixing it. Overtreated delivers on both counts . . . Brownlee uncovers some truly amazing facts and] has given us a thoughtful push in the right direction.--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

This book is written for a sophisticated general audience. I hope it is widely read, providing patients with the needed resolve to stop demanding that their physicians prescribe the latest procedure, poultice or potion that marketing and medical journalism foists on them . . . Brownlee's presentation is brilliant journalism.--Journal of the American Medical Association

The cardiologist who found blocked arteries in nearly every patient . . . the brilliant breast cancer cure that too often killed patients . . . Brownlee uses anecdotes of medical misdeeds, mistakes, and misunderstandings to illustrate a surprising truth at the heart of American healthcare: More isn't necessarily better. Shoring up her conclusions with groundbreaking findings from a group of researchers at Dartmouth, Brownlee also points the way to workable solutions.--O, The Oprah Magazine Exhaustive takedown of the U.S. health-care system . . . Overtreated eclipses Michael Moore's reporting and eschews his polemics. By piling on facts, Brownlee shows why Americans spend so much on health care yet are in measurably poorer shape than the residents of just about every other developed nation.--Conde Nast Portfolio

Alarming and intriguing . . . Brownlee gives each of her theme-based chapters an emotional core by rolling out a story.--Bloomberg.com Overtreated should be read by anyone interested in health case economics.--Tyler Cowen, marginalrevolution.com

Finally, someone willing to expose the dirty little secret of US health care. If you have insurance you will certainly get too much health care, and in this situation more is definitely not better. Shannon Brownlee's book, Overtreated, will open your eyes to the problems and point the way to the answers.--Susan Love, M.D., author of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book, and President and Medical Director, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation In the blizzard of books on our healthcare system, Shannon Brownlee's is unique in its provocative argument that individuals and the nation suffer from misguided and costly treatments. Patients, physicians, and policy makers would do well to consider her evidence as an important prescription for reform.--Jerome Groopman, M.D., Harvard Medical School and author of How Doctors Think This book could save your life. In gripping detail, Shannon Brownlee explains how well-insured Americans get much more high-tech medical care--CT scans, angiograms, and the like--than they need, enriching the hospitals and doctors who provide it, but driving up the overall costs of health care and often endangering patients' lives. Brownlee clearly shows in this important book that overtreatment, like undertreatment, is very bad medicine.--Marcia Angell, senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School and former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine Overtreated will scare you. And that's a good thing. In this vivid and arresting tour of medicine in America, Shannon Brownlee shows why the care that is supposed to make us healthier frequently makes us sicker instead. At a time when health care reform is atop the political agenda again, this book should be required reading--not only for every lawmaker and medical professional, but for every voter and patient, too.--Jonathan Cohn, author of Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis--and the People Who Pay the Price With her razor-sharp analyses, Shannon Brownlee disentangles the messy paradoxes of today's health care mess and turns every assumption on its head. She will forever change the way you view health care while restoring your hope for its future. This book is an important read for anyone interested in health care reform, which, in this day and age of overtreatment, should be all of us.--Pauline Chen, author of Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality

Journalist Brownlee blames America's sky-high healthcare costs on expensive treatments imposed by doctors on patients all too ready to accept or even demand them. At a time when presidential candidates are asked how they plan to pay for universal healthcare coverage, the author provides reams of data to back up her contention that the real issue is the 'dysfunctional, unfair and spectacularly expensive system' we're already paying for. Unnecessary care is rampant, she concludes. Doctors are coaxed, conditioned or warned that they must prescribe drugs or tests, refer to specialists, put patients in the hospital, operate. If this excessively aggressive approach involves a new drug, device or machine, so much the better: Medicare or another insurer will pay generously for high-ticket items, but not for prevention and advice. Some patients benefit;

About the Author

Shannon Brownlees stories and essays about medicine, health care, and biotechnology have appeared in such publications as the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, and Time. Born and raised in Honolulu, she holds a masters degree in biology from the University of California. She is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. Brownlee lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and son.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781582345796
Author:
Brownlee, Shannon
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Subject:
General Medical
Subject:
Health Care Delivery
Subject:
General
Subject:
Health Care Issues
Subject:
Medical care -- United States.
Subject:
Medical care -- Utilization -- United States.
Subject:
Health and Medicine-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20080931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

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Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer Used Trade Paper
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Product details 368 pages Bloomsbury Press - English 9781582345796 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , My choice for the economics book of the year...it's the best description I have yet read of a huge economic problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, New York Times

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. Brownlee dissects what she calls the medical-industrial complex and lays bare the backward economic incentives embedded in our system, revealing a stunning portrait of the care we now receive.

Nevertheless, Overtreated ultimately conveys a message of hope by reframing the debate over health care reform. It 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.

With a new afterword offering practical advice to patients on how to navigate the health care system.

Shannon Brownlee's stories and essays about medicine, health care, and biotechnology have appeared in such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Time. Born and raised in Honolulu, she holds a master's degree in biology from the University of California. She is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. Brownlee lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and son. Award-winning journalist Shannon Brownlee takes readers inside the hospital to examine the hypocrisies and dismantle some of our most venerated myths about the American medical system. Using the stories 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 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 red tape undermines even the best-intentioned doctors. Tens of thousands of patients die each year from overtreatment.

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 proposes 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. My choice for the economics book of the year . . . It's the best description I have yet read of a huge economics problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, The New York Times My choice for the economics book of the year . . . It's the best description I have yet read of a huge economics problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, The New York Times

In her persuasive Overtreated, Shannon Brownlee . . . argues that too much medicine--for many patients, much of the time--is doing serious damage to the nation's health, while also costing us an arm and a leg . . . Brownlee's larger point that we should try to cut back on unnecessary care is well taken, as are her suggestions for change, including: better coordination among doctors, a restructuring of incentives to favor preventive care, and better information for patients.--Amanda Schaffer, The Washington Post Her argument is compelling . . . a] worthwhile and thought-provoking volume.--The Boston Globe

A compelling and damning indictment of the way health care is organized and delivered in the richest country in the world. If Michael Moore's film Sicko exposed viewers to the excruciating dilemmas faced by people who can't access American medicine, Overtreated provides the flip side, with compelling stories of people who are injured or die because they get too much of a good thing.--Canadian Medical Association Journal

Overtreated is a necessary, if bitter tonic . . . we desperately need an unbiased examination of the mess we're in and some substantive ideas for fixing it. Overtreated delivers on both counts . . . Brownlee uncovers some truly amazing facts and] has given us a thoughtful push in the right direction.--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

This book is written for a sophisticated general audience. I hope it is widely read, providing patients with the needed resolve to stop demanding that their physicians prescribe the latest procedure, poultice or potion that marketing and medical journalism foists on them . . . Brownlee's presentation is brilliant journalism.--Journal of the American Medical Association

The cardiologist who found blocked arteries in nearly every patient . . . the brilliant breast cancer cure that too often killed patients . . . Brownlee uses anecdotes of medical misdeeds, mistakes, and misunderstandings to illustrate a surprising truth at the heart of American healthcare: More isn't necessarily better. Shoring up her conclusions with groundbreaking findings from

"Synopsis" by , My choice for the economics book of the year...it's the best description I have yet read of a huge economic problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, New York Times

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. Brownlee dissects what she calls the medical-industrial complex and lays bare the backward economic incentives embedded in our system, revealing a stunning portrait of the care we now receive.

Nevertheless, Overtreated ultimately conveys a message of hope by reframing the debate over health care reform. It 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.

With a new afterword offering practical advice to patients on how to navigate the health care system.

Shannon Brownlee's stories and essays about medicine, health care, and biotechnology have appeared in such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Time. Born and raised in Honolulu, she holds a master's degree in biology from the University of California. She is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. Brownlee lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and son. Award-winning journalist Shannon Brownlee takes readers inside the hospital to examine the hypocrisies and dismantle some of our most venerated myths about the American medical system. Using the stories 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 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 red tape undermines even the best-intentioned doctors. Tens of thousands of patients die each year from overtreatment.

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 proposes 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. My choice for the economics book of the year . . . It's the best description I have yet read of a huge economics problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, The New York Times My choice for the economics book of the year . . . It's the best description I have yet read of a huge economics problem that we know how to solve--but is so often misunderstood.--David Leonhardt, The New York Times

In her persuasive Overtreated, Shannon Brownlee . . . argues that too much medicine--for many patients, much of the time--is doing serious damage to the nation's health, while also costing us an arm and a leg . . . Brownlee's larger point that we should try to cut back on unnecessary care is well taken, as are her suggestions for change, including: better coordination among doctors, a restructuring of incentives to favor preventive care, and better information for patients.--Amanda Schaffer, The Washington Post Her argument is compelling . . . a] worthwhile and thought-provoking volume.--The Boston Globe

A compelling and damning indictment of the way health care is organized and delivered in the richest country in the world. If Michael Moore's film Sicko exposed viewers to the excruciating dilemmas faced by people who can't access American medicine, Overtreated provides the flip side, with compelling stories of people who are injured or die because they get too much of a good thing.--Canadian Medical Association Journal

Overtreated is a necessary, if bitter tonic . . . we desperately need an unbiased examination of the mess we're in and some substantive ideas for fixing it. Overtreated delivers on both counts . . . Brownlee uncovers some truly amazing facts and] has given us a thoughtful push in the right direction.--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

This book is written for a sophisticated general audience. I hope it is widely read, providing patients with the needed resolve to stop demanding that their physicians prescribe the latest procedure, poultice or potion that marketing and medical journalism foists on them . . . Brownlee's presentation is brilliant journalism.--Journal of the American Medical Association

The cardiologist who found blocked arteries in nearly every patient . . . the brilliant breast cancer cure that too often killed patients . . . Brownlee uses anecdotes of medical misdeeds, mistakes, and misunderstandings to illustrate a surprising truth at the heart of American healthcare: More isn't necessarily better. Shoring up her conclusions with groundbreaking findings from a group of researchers at Dartmouth, Brownlee also points the way to workable solutions.--O, The Oprah Magazine Exhaustive takedown of the U.S. health-care system . . . Overtreated eclipses Michael Moore's reporting and eschews his polemics. By piling on facts, Brownlee shows why Americans spend so much on health care yet are in measurably poorer shape than the residents of just about every other developed nation.--Conde Nast Portfolio

Alarming and intriguing . . . Brownlee gives each of her theme-based chapters an emotional core by rolling out a story.--Bloomberg.com Overtreated should be read by anyone interested in health case economics.--Tyler Cowen, marginalrevolution.com

Finally, someone willing to expose the dirty little secret of US health care. If you have insurance you will certainly get too much health care, and in this situation more is definitely not better. Shannon Brownlee's book, Overtreated, will open your eyes to the problems and point the way to the answers.--Susan Love, M.D., author of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book, and President and Medical Director, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation In the blizzard of books on our healthcare system, Shannon Brownlee's is unique in its provocative argument that individuals and the nation suffer from misguided and costly treatments. Patients, physicians, and policy makers would do well to consider her evidence as an important prescription for reform.--Jerome Groopman, M.D., Harvard Medical School and author of How Doctors Think This book could save your life. In gripping detail, Shannon Brownlee explains how well-insured Americans get much more high-tech medical care--CT scans, angiograms, and the like--than they need, enriching the hospitals and doctors who provide it, but driving up the overall costs of health care and often endangering patients' lives. Brownlee clearly shows in this important book that overtreatment, like undertreatment, is very bad medicine.--Marcia Angell, senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School and former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine Overtreated will scare you. And that's a good thing. In this vivid and arresting tour of medicine in America, Shannon Brownlee shows why the care that is supposed to make us healthier frequently makes us sicker instead. At a time when health care reform is atop the political agenda again, this book should be required reading--not only for every lawmaker and medical professional, but for every voter and patient, too.--Jonathan Cohn, author of Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis--and the People Who Pay the Price With her razor-sharp analyses, Shannon Brownlee disentangles the messy paradoxes of today's health care mess and turns every assumption on its head. She will forever change the way you view health care while restoring your hope for its future. This book is an important read for anyone interested in health care reform, which, in this day and age of overtreatment, should be all of us.--Pauline Chen, author of Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality

Journalist Brownlee blames America's sky-high healthcare costs on expensive treatments imposed by doctors on patients all too ready to accept or even demand them. At a time when presidential candidates are asked how they plan to pay for universal healthcare coverage, the author provides reams of data to back up her contention that the real issue is the 'dysfunctional, unfair and spectacularly expensive system' we're already paying for. Unnecessary care is rampant, she concludes. Doctors are coaxed, conditioned or warned that they must prescribe drugs or tests, refer to specialists, put patients in the hospital, operate. If this excessively aggressive approach involves a new drug, device or machine, so much the better: Medicare or another insurer will pay generously for high-ticket items, but not for prevention and advice. Some patients benefit;

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