Sunday, November 20, 2005 Hope or Hype: The Obsession with Medical Advances and the High Cost of False Promises: Books: Richard A. Deyo,Donald L., Ph.D. Patrick

What is wrong with American health care and how can we fix it? " Many recent books try to address this question. One of the central points of "Hope or Hype" is that "...the major reason for rising health-care costs and shrinking insurance coverage is the rapid introduction of new medical treatments, often before they can be adequately evaluated for effectiveness, safety, or cost."
The authors, a medical doctor and a social scientist, have had years of experience studying health care in the larger societal context. "Hope or Hype" focuses on what happens when we allow the hype in the media and the marketplace to overtake the good that medical advances can bring us. It tells the story of overmedicalization, wasted resources and greed. If you are thinking - problem, what problem? Start by reading "Part III - Useless, Harmful or Marginal: Popular Treatments that Caused Unneccessary Disability, Dollar Costs, or Death." The stories are first-hand accounts of what happened to medical researchers when they got in the way of special interest groups and big drug companies. The back stories surrounding those drugs and devices you see advertised on television are very interesting.
Deyo and Patrick have written this book for the general public, as well as for students and health care researchers. They provide an historical overview of our love of "technoconsumption" and our infatuation with the latest medical breakthroughs.
The final chapters address how we all can do better. For example, they suggest that decisions about using new drugs and devices could be "evidence-based" and that consumers could be better informed to help prepare them to participate in shared decision making. Finally, they suggest that the government could create a "Fed" for health care, a regulatory agency mandated to oversee the integration of new technologies in medicine while minimizing waste and potential harm."

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