The Treatment Trap

“In debates over health-care reform, a missing element has been the failure to confront the over-use of medical care. Politicians and the health-care establishment don’t want to talk about it. One person’s overuse is another person’s payment for college tuition or a mortgage on a McMansion.”[1]

Two people who are talking about it are authors Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh. The name of their book is The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Medical Care is Wrecking Your Health and What You Can Do to Prevent It. Gibson and Singh cite medical research and share insights gleaned from doctors, nurses, hospital CEO’s, patients and their families.

“Health care insiders confirm that medical care that doesn’t make people better has become more prevalent in the past decade…A seasoned nurse observes, ‘Health insurance used to be about giving people access to health care. Now it’s about giving providers access to patients.’ The former CEO of Johns Hopkins Health System, Dr. James Block, says about over-use, ‘My God, there’s so much of it, you see it everywhere.’”[2]

“In November  2008, the National Quality Forum, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, released a list of prescription drugs, lab tests, diagnostic tests, and surgeries that are overused. The list includes antibiotics, x-rays, cardiac CT scans, heart bypass surgery, back surgery, knee and hip replacement, prostatectomy, angioplasty and hysterectomy.”[3]

“Dr. James Weinstein, director for the Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at the Dartmouth Medical School, calls overuse an epidemic…One doctor calls it ‘the green monster.’ It lurks in every crevice of the system; its appetite is voracious, and it is obese…It wants to keep you in the dark—it doesn’t want you to know that so much of medicine is guesswork. Under the guise of benevolence, it wants to sell just about anything to an unsuspecting public even if it doesn’t help and may possibly harm. Its greatest enemy is truth.”[4]

“In 1976, a House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations heard evidence and concluded that 2.4 million unnecessary surgeries were performed annually, resulting 11,900 deaths.  The annual cost of these surgeries was estimated at $3.9 billion. Since 1976, no new estimate of overuse has been calculated.”[5]

“The term ‘over-use’ was first coined in 1991 by Dr. Mark Chassin, a physician and researcher; and now president of the Joint Commission, the Chicago-based organization that accredits and certifies sixteen thousand health-care organizations. In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, he defined it as providing a treatment when its risk of harm exceeded its potential benefit.”[6]

An anesthesiologist tells the story of “Mr. Goode,” an elderly patient in surgery for a total knee replacement. The surgeon on the case replaced the anesthesiologist with a different one. After the surgery, the patient was back in surgery in dire condition. The anesthesiologist read the patient’s chart and saw that his EKG suggested significant coronary disease. In talking with the patient, the anesthesiologist found that his symptoms were suggestive, not of arthritis but, of poor blood flow to his legs. He realized that the surgeon had replaced him as anesthesiologist, on the case, because the surgeon knew he would have stopped the surgery. “Mr. Goode” died later that day.  When the anesthesiologist complained to his superior, the chief of anesthesiology said, “No one important dies.”[7]

A doctor who practices medicine on the east coast has this to say:  “It’s a bit graphic, but over-use is like the nature programs on PBS television. When the tigers or lions kill their prey, all kinds of creatures come to share in the feast. This is what happens to patients. I see it every day. When a doctor admits a patient to the hospital, he might call in six, eight, or ten consultants. Each one bills the patient. No one questions whether the procedure or whatever the consulting doctors do benefits the patient. It’s a feeding frenzy.”[8]

“He continues: ‘Not far from here a group of doctors refer patient to each other. They do all sorts of things to them, and give each other kickbacks. The patients think it is good care, but they don’t know enough to know otherwise. It’s not good care. It’s exploitation. It’s assault and battery. It happens every day in doctors’ offices. The government allows the doctors to be crooks. It’s a form of organized crime and no one does anything about it.’”[9]

“Overuse increases the cost of health care for everyone and causes health insurance premiums to skyrocket. Millions of people are denied entry to the health-care pasture because they cannot afford the price to enter. If unnecessary grazing were curtailed, more people could enter the pasture to receive the care they need.”[10]


[1] Gibson, Rosemary and Janardan Prasad Singh. The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Medical Care is Wrecking Your Health and What You Can Do to Prevent It. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2010.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

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~ by ens3 on December 13, 2010.

6 Responses to “The Treatment Trap”

  1. Hi last year my wife went to see Dr Robrt Bodlaj because she had a problem in her nose ,in my place nobody want to tell her the truth for a long 7 years , we made an appoitment with this amazing doctor ,and he tell us the truth that she has ENS ,she made the surgery and the op was a great success ,he is a god sent in his practice , very polite great stuff and helpfull ,very patient everything on time ,i never seen a doctor like him ,i will very very recomanded this doctor and i wish the best ,because he changed our lives .
    THANKS
    RITA (MALTA)

  2. omg there is so much more i could go on my son has lost all sense of self we have together spend hundreds of pounds and wasted many good days/nights visiting hospitals a and e dept
    he is so scared as he said in the beginning he didnt want surgery his problem was caused by a punch in the nose cauusing his septum to make contact witht he right middle turbinate he only wanted septoplasty the surgeon wouldnt listen and told him he shouldnt ask questions like he wwas asking?
    my son only wanted him to say hed take it off the turbinate and he wouldnt i dont know why we went to him. we even went private then and payed for a ct scan too im still paying i havnt worked since he cant be left for long.
    He had fess and turbintae reduction which hes been told has got to be sorted as the bone cant heal?
    is he telling the truth?
    who do we trust?
    will it make it better? he said there is a small chance he may need a further op?

    Why was my son ever given this reduction? he didnt want or need it
    His doctor thinks hes delusional as he knows his septum is still on the other turbinate but because the surgeon says hes ok the doctor agrees and wouldnt allow my son a second opinion even though again i was going to pay the gp sent lots of negative forms about my son to the new surgeon who now wont see him unless hes been mentally evaluated?
    My son is screaming out for help1
    what shall i do now?
    Each time hes been to a and e not one ent person has properly examined his nose like with a proper fine endoscope to see whats happeneing so how have they had the right to ischarge him saying its normal when hes had a rotting smell up there for months.
    is this neglect and criminal damage?
    I cant take nay more and im only on the edge watching telling him he wont die as a result of things needing to be done again
    i dont know what to do?
    help please soemone out there!

  3. Turbinates are so very rich in nerve endings and when they do not function it directly effects the quality of your life.

    • hello ive read this articlw tih shock horror and i desperately need help and advise for my son who had unecessary turbinate reduction along with septoplasty
      the nose has been stinking and crusting for three months after surgery now on the reduction side.
      his surgeon sid its normal
      yet i had to get a homereferal privately to have hin looked at properly by another ent in another town he said his bone has been left exposed inside and wont heal without further surgery/
      please can someone advise me is this the best thing to elect for?

      • This is the closest doctor I know of to England who might be able to help your son. You might try calling his office and see if they know of anyone closer. I hope your son will get better.

        Dr. Robert Bodlaj
        Facharzt für HNO
        Bamberger Strasse 7
        96215 Lichtenfels
        Tel.: 09571 / 58 85
        Fax.: 09571 / 948196
        http://www.hno-lif.de

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