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Six Reasons You May Get Put on the Overtreatment Conveyor Belt

End-of-life care may be the most dramatic example of a phenomenon where, if we actually give people complete information and do what they want, we will spend less money. We would also cause a lot less suffering. Indeed, the United States National Academy of Sciences estimated back in 2005 that “between thirty and forty cents of every dollar spent on healthcare is wasted and that amounts to slightly more than a half-trillion dollars a year.” It has probably only gotten worse since then.

The financial cost is bad enough. But the enormous and unnecessary harm invasive tests, futile surgeries and toxic medications can cause is even worse. Every medical intervention carries a risk of incidental injury and burdensome, sometimes irreversible, side effects. Sometimes those risks are downright catastrophic and can rob us of mental and physical well-being during our final years of life.

Some estimate up to 30 percent of medical treatment is unnecessary, and physicians themselves reported in 2017 that 21 percent of overall care and 25 percent of medical tests are unnecessary. Why has overtreatment become such an expensive and pervasive ill of our system?

The below short book trailer outlines what I see as the top 6 reasons for overtreatment; many times they overlap and reinforce each other. In Chapter 3 of Finish Strong: “Overtreatment and Diminishing Returns,” I describe in more detail the origins of these causes (it’s eye-opening). Then I give you some tools to avoid landing on the overtreatment conveyor belt at your most vulnerable moments in life. It helps to be forewarned and prepared.