Wed., 3/28/12: The Doctor Will Screen You Now

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The Doctor Will Screen You Now

As part of WGBH's focus on health care this week, we look at the fine line between preventive medicine and overdiagnosis. The standard operating procedure in modern medicine is early diagnosis. The theory is to keep people healthy by determining whether or not they have a medical condition. The practice is to find these conditions early on, through screening-- a precept that appeals to most people.

Is it better to be screened for a disease now, rather than treated for one that goes undetected later? At what point is a diagnostic probe, or a screen, or a scan too much? Are these tests necessary? Do they come with their own set of risks? How can doctors balance preventive medicine with invasive and costly procedures?

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GUEST:
   Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, professor of medicine at The Dartmouth Institute, author of Overdiagnosed: Making people Sick in the Pursuit of Health
   Arthur Caplan, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania

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