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How Healthcare Might Be Like Garlic

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 4, 2011

The patients are happy because think they've escaped a disease or condition. But we know there's a lot of healthcare that’s being provided by doctors and hospitals, who are a bit like those cops, she says. "We are overusing drugs and treatment for people who are unlikely to benefit."

Grady says it's not just that researchers are now overturning dogma. "What typically happens is that we prove a treatment is good in a certain group of people—say people at high risk for heart disease—and then apply that treatment more broadly ... like giving aspirin to a 20-year-old healthy athlete. The risks of taking aspirin, such as GI bleeding, are still there," she says.

Among the latest to be featured in the section is a paper published last week by researchers at Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, with colleagues from Yale University, the University of Miami, and Seoul National University Bundang Hospital in Korea.

They found that screening with coronary computed tomographic angiography, or CCTA, was associated with more invasive testing without any difference in events at 18 months. The paper concludes: "Screening CCTA should not be considered a justifiable test at this time."

Last month, another team found that despite evidence showing no benefit, cardiologists at far too many hospitals are still performing revascularization procedures on stable patients more than 24 hours after their heart attacks, after heart muscle damage has already occurred.

Still another paper chronicled 16 medical reversals documented by papers in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 and 2010.

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