Overkill (‘The New Yorker’)

In a story about the preponderance of unnecessary medical care that is harming patients physically and financially, New Yorker writer Atul Gawande notes that Dartmouth’s H. Gilbert Welch is “an expert on overdiagnosis, and in his excellent new book, Less Medicine, More Health, he explains the phenomenon this way: We’ve assumed, he says, that cancers are all like rabbits that you want to catch before they escape the barnyard pen. But some are more like birds—the most aggressive cancers have already taken flight before you can discover them, which is why some people still die from cancer, despite early detection. And lots are more like turtles. They aren’t going anywhere. Removing them won’t make any difference.”

Welch is a professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine and at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. He is also a professor of business administration for the Master of Health Care Delivery Science program.

Read the full story, published in the 5/11/15 issue of The New Yorker.