The debate about screening

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Screening and prevention are huge issues in medicine today. We all know that knowing early is better than knowing late, so we all screen: it’s like having your teeth cleaned and minding your credit score. Why not screen? Insurance pays, after all, and so….

Here’s a nuanced take on the issue, from Gary Schwitzer of, on American Health Line:

“One trend that stands out from 2010 is what I call ‘screening madness.’ I’m referring specifically and solely to the promotion of screening tests outside the boundaries of evidence and to the emphasis only on the benefits of screening tests with concomitant downplaying or complete disregard for the harms of screening.

“Why is this a health policy issue? There are several obvious reasons. If we don’t communicate balanced information on harms as well as benefits of screening tests, we’re probably never going to do so on downstream treatment choice issues. And therein is a pretty big piece of the health care economy. Screening people outside the boundaries of evidence could bankrupt the nation in a heartbeat.” More.