Reviews

The Patient Paradox: Why Sexed-up Medicine is Bad for Your Health

THIS BOOK offers a fascinating insight into the usefulness of modern medical screening. Practising GP Margaret McCartney bravely presents convincing and well-constructed arguments against a number of screening programmes in the UK, including those for breast cancer, cardiovascular risk, prostate, and cervical cancer. She investigates the evidence behind the propaganda that often surrounds these services. The book is well written, easy to read and use of diagrams and examples is clear.

The author argues that there is too much testing of people who are well through these different screening programmes. She describes how these services are set up to lead people to be tested, rather than to inform and let them choose whether or not they wish to be screened. She also writes about potentially negative consequences such as overdiagnosis, anxiety and increased costs.

Ms McCartney explores the position of the government and pharmaceutical companies, and the influence of charities on the healthcare system. She presents the inverse care law, whereby people who are the most ill end up having access to the least care or struggle to get the care they need. The author argues that the healthcare system has only helped to maintain this negative trend by focusing on offering screenings to the ‘worried well’.

The author ends by emphasising that doctors need to remain professional, make evidence-based decisions

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