Miracle Workers is going to further promote overtesting:

“It sounds scary, frankly,” said Dr. Richard Deyo, professor of medicine and health services at the University of Washington and co-author of “Hope or Hype: The Obsession with Medical Advances and the High Cost of False Promises.”

The “Miracle Workers,” he said, “sounds like it’s destined to create wild expectations on the part of people watching it and perpetrate some myths on how doctors can do miracles.”

Patients with unrealistic expectations are not the only consequence of these TV shows, Deyo said. They’re responsible for at least some part of the skyrocketing costs of health care in this country, too.

Take MRIs. “People really have this conviction that MRIs will be a magic bullet,” he said, when in fact they often are hard to read and show a lot of things that are misleading. They cost about $2,000, he said, and their use is dramatically increasing.

Yet these tests are often not available to the poor and uninsured.

“People don’t connect the two,” he said. “The reason 40 million people in this country don’t have insurance is because it isn’t affordable. And the reason it isn’t affordable is because of the overuse of expensive tests and treatments.”

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