Intended for healthcare professionals


Experts consider how to tackle overtreatment in US healthcare

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 01 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3144
  1. Jeanne Lenzer
  1. 1New York

The first randomised study of coronary artery bypass surgery was not carried out until 16 years after the procedure was first developed, a conference on overtreatment in US healthcare was told last week. When the results were published, they “provided no comfort for those doing the surgery,” as it showed no mortality benefit from surgery for stable coronary patients.

This example of surgeons embracing an expensive and invasive technique before it had been properly evaluated was given by Bernard Lown, professor emeritus of cardiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. He was speaking at the Avoiding Avoidable Care conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 25 and 26 April, at which experts met to explore what drives overtreatment and how to reduce it.

Lown, who is now in his 90s, told the audience, “I’ve been waiting 60 …

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