Thursday, November 12, 2009

The overtreatment of America

My latest piece. So far most of the health care debate has been over quantity: how much care delivered to how many people. It looks to me like quality may be more important. Also, if you are a man (or know one you like) this case study is going to be useful for you at some point. We all get prostate cancer eventually. Meet the characters after the jump...

Here's super-surgeon Peter Carroll, who has done the excellent research I talk about in the piece. I got the impression that he's an exacting perfectionist numbers guy. Probably what you are looking for in someone whose handling a scalpel around your tender vitals.

And here's the other doc in the piece: Wells Shoemaker, pediatrician, big picture thinker and winemaker. Wonderful guy, fabulous in keeping the data in perspective with the larger goal of having as many people as possible live the richest and happiest lives as possible. I thought that he and Dr. Carroll worked well together.

And here's the insightful and thorough patient, John Shoemaker, (with his wife Donna). He happens to be a very smart and a successful businessman - they kind of person I'd trust to give me good advice.


  1. Excellent piece here. When you say "we all get prostate cancer" you are no doubt betraying your sexism. :) I think the stat is 90% of men who live past 60 have it. As such a man, I find your research vastly mollyfying, despite the hard fact that my father died from it. Can I get Dr. Carroll's number? bj

  2. Good point re: sexism (or at least a bias to identify with the body I have). Here's the contact info for UCSF Urology -

    For patients, personal help to find a doctor or the correct urology clinic is available from the UCSF Medical Center at 888-689-UCSF (888-689-8273) Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST) or by email at