Perhaps Preventing Prevention is Prudent
By Amy Willis
In his book, Risky Medicine, physician Robert Aronowitz calls into question many of the health care norms we’ve adopted in our lives, including PSA tests for men and routine mammograms for women. In an unusual twist for EconTalk listeners, perhaps, Aronowitz suggests, the biggest problem in health care isn’t too little information, but too much.
EconTalk host Russ Roberts also offers a very personal post-script (1:04:44) to this episode, and we’re hoping you’re willing to be a bit personal this week as well. Let us know how this episode has impacted the way you think about your own health, using the prompts below.
1. How do we confuse the means to good health with actual good health, according to Aronowitz? To what extent have you seen such confusion, either among people you know, or perhaps yourself?
2. What is the “elephant in green pajamas problem,” and how does it describe what Aronowitz sees as wrong in medicine today?
3. Aronowitz worries that we’ll need to make a “Rawlsian bargain” with ourselves as the quantity of information about our own health grows. What does he mean by this? To what extent should information provided to patients be limited when it comes to screenings and early interventions?
4. Have you ridden the health care “roller coaster?” Were your ups and downs the result of Type I or Type II error? How has your experience changed the way you look at health care?