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Hope or Hype:  The Obsession with Medical Advances and the High Cost of False Promises

Hope or Hype: The Obsession with Medical Advances and the High Cost of False Promises
Richard A. Deyo
New York : AMACOM, 2005
RA418.5 .M4 D49 2005

"Don’t just stand there, do something!"

Our collective impulse, in the face of illness or injury, is to demand just that. But the idea that there is always "something" that can - and should - be done is born of our own blind trust in a medical establishment that preys on our deepest fears, all the while purporting to ride to our rescue with "miracle cures."

Certainly, few industries have enjoyed such monumental advances and explosive growth in recent decades as the medical, pharmaceutical, and health care industries. And thankfully, much bona fide progress is still being made in the treatment and prevention of once-fatal conditions. But the combination of industry greed, media hype, political expediency, and our own "technoconsumption" mindset is leading more and more often to a reliance on costly treatments that are marginally effective at best - and sometimes downright dangerous.

Hope or Hype is a taboo-shattering look at what drives the American obsession with medical miracles. Dr. Richard Deyo and Dr. Donald Patrick - both experts on the ethical and policy issues facing the medical community and its constituents - spread the blame for the parade of false promises and compromises, indicting in equal measure the pharmaceutical and equipment companies; the doctors and hospitals too quick to order unnecessary and costly surgeries and medications; the politicians and media all too eager for a signature issue or a good story; and our own relentless demand to be "made healthy."

Hope or Hype outlines the hazards - from unnecessary treatment to actual harm or even death - of embracing medical advances without serious consideration of efficacy, long-term benefit, side effects, cost, and other critical factors. The book also provides a frank and sometimes startling look at how companies get us to buy into the need for the most expensive treatments, and even manipulate clinical trials and data in order to present the "right" result.

The book’s final section presents a systematic and workable approach for crossing the threshold to better practices, with recommendations for doctors, researchers, insurers, regulators, and consumers. So although Hope or Hype exposes many shocking truths about the state of our health-care system, the book is far from a rant. It is rather a call for sense and vigilance on the part of the medical community, the consumer, and the major industrial players, all of whom stand to gain from a more reasoned and thorough approach to the application of new science and technology.

Quoted from dust jacket.