“We punish sick people”: Doctors launch campaign to limit unnecessary care

The Boston-based Lown Institute just wrapped up it’s annual meeting, mercifully in California instead of here in the slowly melting tundra. Cheryl Clark at Health Leaders Media reports: 

It’s not that far a stretch to call the Boston-based Lown Institute’s burgeoning “Right Care, Right Now” movement a kind of 60s-style medico-political protest march against healthcare overutilization and misuse…

Indeed, during the group’s three-day conference in San Diego this week, the keynote talks were speckled with these phrases:

  • Healthcare industry “greed”
  • “A new counter culture movement”
  • “Toxic hierarchy”
  • “Medical industrial complex”
  • “Perverse incentives”

These distinguished physicians say they’ve become intolerably frustrated by a system they are part of, but desperately want to change.

More from the campaign website:

Declaration of Principles of the
Right Care Alliance


  • Modern medicine offers important benefits, yet it also has the capacity to cause harm;
  • Those harms arise from three central failings of medical systems: the overuse, underuse, and misuse of medical services. Of these, overuse – including overdiagnosis, overtreatment, and the use of ineffective, unnecessary, and unwanted medical tests and treatments – has received the least attention;
  • Overuse is common and tacitly accepted in modern health care.
  • Overuse exposes patients to harm, including the risk of serious injury or death, suffering, and financial ruin, with little or no possibility of benefit.
  • Overuse diverts resources from the provision of needed care, and crowds out investment in social services, education, nutrition, and other non-medical contributors to health;
  • The health care industry puts money before people and allows personal and commercial interests to distort clinical decisions, thus betraying patients’ trust.
  • Clinicians and health care leaders have an ethical obligation to protect patients from the harms of both underuse and overuse.

Therefore we, the signatories of this document, declare that performing unnecessary medical tests and treatments is unethical and unacceptable. We join the call for the medical profession to renew its sense of duty and commitment to patients. We call on health care leaders to recognize their ethical obligation to put patient care first. We call on civil society to advocate for a medical system that is affordable, effective, rational, personal, and just.


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