Monday, September 22, 2014

Screening the screenings

Here's an excellent piece about "wellness screenings" by John Lundy at the Duluth News Tribune.  The underlying theme about unnecessary testing and the business of selling such tests is important.  John's presentation is very well done.

As Gary Schwitzer notes in a message to health care reporters, "Imagine the impact if this kind of story was published by papers big and small across the country."

An excerpt:

The screenings — for stroke, atrial fibrillation, abdominal aortic aneurysm, peripheral arterial disease and osteoporosis — “aren’t just routine procedures,” an enclosure in the envelope [a 74-year-old man] stated. The words were next to a photo of a solemn-faced man in a white jacket, with a stethoscope hanging around his neck.

“They can help save your life,” it concluded, with the final three words underlined.

But some health experts argue that some of the screenings offered by Life Line and similar companies actually can do more harm than good.

“The layman would be shocked to know we actually do not have science to show that these screening, early detection tests actually decrease mortality or are beneficial to the patient,” Dr. Otis Brawley said in a telephone interview.

The chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society and a professor at Atlanta’s Emory University, Brawley wrote the 2011 book “How We Do Harm” on practices he argues benefit everyone except the patient.

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