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How Healthcare Might Be Like Garlic

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 4, 2011

Other examples of care no longer advised include prescribing postmenopausal hormones for asymptomatic women, arthroscopic debridement of the knee, and giving antidepressants to people with only mild rather than severe depression. We now know that the adverse events, costs, pain, and risks these patients undergo are not outweighed by the benefits.

In May 2010, articles in the Archives highlighted serious adverse events from proton pump inhibitors such as an increased risk of fractures, Clostridium difficile infection, and diarrhea, when the drugs are prescribed for nonulcer dyspepsia.

As we hone in on comparative effectiveness research and see where it takes us, we will likely find many examples of how getting more care, which we used to think made us get better, may in fact make us worse. But, as Grady says, the important thing is to educate the public, as we educate doctors and hospitals, to avoid care that won't help.

"I just think people mix all this up,” says Grady. “They think that because it's medical care and I can get more of that, it must be better. Well, it's not really always better. We're trying to make the public a little more skeptical."


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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