Harvard Health Letter

Too much of a good thing

Dartmouth researchers find that patterns of medical care vary widely — and that more services don't mean better outcomes.

An article in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 about the cancer risk associated with the radiation from CT scans got a good deal of attention. In the measured, passive voice so often used in medical journal articles ("...there is a strong case to be made..."), the team of authors from Columbia University Medical Center suggested that many of the potentially cancer-causing scans are probably unnecessary and done for the wrong reasons — out of fear of lawsuits and inadvertent duplication.

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