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Overkill: Unnecessary Care Is Low-Value Care

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Solution lies in adhering to evidence that shows what works. Last month, Dr. Atul Gawande published a thought-provoking essay in The New Yorker about the millions of tests, drugs and surgeries that American people undergo every year, which won’t make them better, may cause harm, and costs billions. Sadly, this avalanche of unnecessary care is not confined solely to physical health care. Behavioral health and substance use disorder systems are also guilty of deploying what researchers call “low-value” care. This message is jarring, and the data indicating system failure is even more so. For example, only 25 percent of the 30 million Americans prescribed an antidepressant in a primary care setting every year show substantial clinical improvement. Given that common…

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