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Best health-care system…not (4)

We all loved the movie Field of Dreams, didn’t we? It gave us the memorable line, “If you build it, he will come,” among other things. But that unforgettable statement of how supply can drive demand describes health care better than baseball.

Latest example: hospitals that buy surgical robots increase the number of prostate surgeries they perform, while hospitals that don’t buy robots do fewer surgeries, according to a newly published paper cited by Gary Schwitzer at Health News Review. Not only is robotic surgery more expensive, there’s no compelling evidence that it achieves better results for patients…and it’s linked to higher rates of certain complications.

“The use of the surgical robot to treat prostate cancer is an instructive example of an expensive medical technology becoming rapidly adopted without clear proof of its benefit,” said the paper’s lead author.

Bill Sez: overuse of expensive new treatments (technology, drugs) that can’t demonstrate improved results contributes heavily to why the U.S. gets such mediocre results even though we spend much more on health care than any other country. But Health Care Reform opponents just want to cut Medicare benefits, not spend the money wisely. Meanwhile, device-makers and drug-makers are known to pressure the FDA for rapid approvals, then try to block publication of later studies that point out complications or show poor results.

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Categories: Health care
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