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Sep 26, 2011

Reasons for Overtreatment: Comment on “Too Little? Too Much? Primary Care Physicians' Views on US Health Care”

Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(17):1586. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.461

Among a nationally representative sample of primary care physicians, Sirovich and colleagues found that 2 in 5 reported that their own patients receive too much health care—tests and treatments that may result in overdiagnosis and drug-related adverse effects. Some of this self-acknowledged overtreatment appears to be driven by financial incentives, but inadequate time to spend with patients was also reported to increase testing and treatment, likely substituting for explanation and reassurance. As noted by O'Kane, limited experience, especially the experience of supporting a dying patient, is likely an additional reason for overly aggressive treatment.

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