The author of the highly acclaimed Overdiagnosed describes seven widespread assumptions that encourage excessive, often ineffective, and sometimes harmful medical care.
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, the US Department of Health and Human Services advises the public to “eat smart, exercise regularly, and get routine health screenings.” And that is absolutely correct—except for the checkup part. The American public has been sold the idea that seeking medical care is one of the most important steps to maintaining wellness. Surprisingly, medical care is not, in fact, well correlated with good health. The major determinants of health exist outside individual medical care.
Dr. H. Gilbert Welch pushes against established wisdom and suggests that medical care may be too aggressive. Drawing on his twenty-five years of medical practice and research, Dr. Welch explains that excessive medical care is often powered by economics and lawyers. But American medical care would not exist in this state if the general public did not harbor powerful assumptions about the value of tests and treatments—a number of which are just plain wrong.
“A bright, lively discussion of the excesses of medical care to which patients often unwittingly go due to certain false assumptions. . . . Welch demonstrates the flaws in these assumptions. His stories involve the risks, uncertainties and harms of cancer screenings, treatments for heart disease, drugs, medical devices and surgical procedures. He makes an especially strong case for the risks of mass screenings for cancer—the fear, the false alarms, the overdiagnoses and the resulting overtreatments. Vivid images make what could be discouragingly technical quite understandable. . . . Welch's engaging style and touches of humor make this an easy read, and the facts he presents make a convincing case.”
“Read this book. It is smart, witty, wonderfully written, and above all wise. We've overmedicalized life and yet we need medicine throughout our lives. No one explains better when we do, when we don't, and why.”
—Atul Gawande, author of Complications and Being Mortal
“Wise, witty, fascinating and alarmingly persuasive—this is a book everyone should read, especially my doctor.”
—Bill Bryson, author of A Short History of Nearly Everything
“With the style of a trustworthy country doctor, Welch, an academic heavyweight, urges us to reject the allure of reducing all health risks by using the latest technology to gather all the data and to fix the problems sooner rather than later. Showing the dangers of our ill-informed enthusiasm for medicine, he brilliantly builds the case for respecting its power and limitations: to seek it when ill and all but avoid it when healthy.”
—Victor M. Montori, MD, Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic
“Gil Welch's latest book shows us exactly how too much medical care can be harmful and even deadly. This is a needed corrective to the American attitude that the more screening and testing, the healthier we will be.”
—Marcia Angell, author of The Truth About Drug Companies