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Is overdiagnosis the biggest problem posed by modern medicine?




Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo sits with Juan Gonzalez as he conducts a checkup on him at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.
Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo sits with Juan Gonzalez as he conducts a checkup on him at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Doctors joke that healthy people, are simply folks who haven't gone through enough medical testing. Patients who visit doctors often, get poked, prodded, x-rayed, tested and re-tested. What starts out as a mild burning sensation from drinking apple cider, leads to a diagnosis of acid reflux disease. Cold hands on the ski slope? Reynaud’s Disease. In his new book, “Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health Medicine," Dr. Gilbert Welch argues that what we’re really suffering from is an epidemic of over diagnosis. Welch, a health policy expert, examines the possibility that American doctors now label too many of us as sick, and as a result, are over-treating patients who never go on to develop symptoms or die from the diagnosed conditions. Going against the conventional wisdom that more screening equals the best preventive medicine, Welch builds a compelling case that we need less – not more – scans and tests. Are doctors being overly alarmist? Or do we really need all those mammograms? What are the ramifications of a health care system that unnecessarily diagnoses and treats patients?

Guest:

Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, author of Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health (Beacon Press)