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Editor's Choice

Overtreatment, over here

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 03 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6684

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Fiona Godlee, editor, BMJ
  1. fgodlee{at}

How much of what we offer to patients is unnecessary? Worse still, how much harm do we do to individuals and society through overtreatment? In the 30 years since Ivan Illich wrote his seminal and, at the time, shocking book Medical Nemesis, the idea that medicine can do clinical and societal harm as well as good has become commonplace. But are we doing enough to bring medicine’s harmful hubris under control?

The answer, in the United States at least, is no. Earlier this year, concerned individuals from a range of backgrounds met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to explore the problem of overtreatment. As Sharon Brownlee explains in …

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