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  • Over-treatment reduces life expectancy says Black Swan author, Nassim Taleb

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    Saturday, September 19, 2009 10:31 am Email this article
    "I believe that the healthcare system... now... reduces life expectancy of patients... [because of] over-treatment," said Nassim Taleb, Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at Polytechnic Institute of New York University and Visiting Professor at London Business School and author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

    Taleb noted this on MSNBC's show, The Morning Meeting with Dylan Ratigan, on August 3rd, 2009.

    “If you treat someone who needs a treatment, you are extending his life.”

    “If you go beyond the necessary, you are overtreating patients.”

    “We have the numbers. Between 120,000 and 400,000 Americans die every year from medical mistakes.”

    “The more money you throw at the system… [the more over-treatment you will get].”

    Host Dylan Ratigan asked, “But what about statistics which say that life expectancy has doubled?”

    “Not because of overtreatment,” Taleb said.

    “It doubled because of penicillin.”

    “It doubled because you don’t have violent crime as much as we had a thousand years ago.”

    “If you look at the numbers, you realize that if I treat someone with severe symptoms, I’m going to extend his life.”

    “If I give statin drugs… to someone who is semi-healthy, I reduce his life life expectancy.”

    “If I operate on you tomorrow, you have a one in 100,000 of dying from the anesthesia. You have another one in 10,000 of having paralysis from medical error. Plus hospital viruses [infections]...”

    “So you have something that people are ignoring… something called iatrogenics or mistakes made [problems caused inadvertently by a doctor, surgeon, medical treatment or diagnostic procedure].”

    “So when you throw a lot of money at health care, people get sicker, not better.”

    “The medical establishment is commercially-driven. They want to make their money.”

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