Too much intervention makes patients sicker | Aseem Malhotra

A culture of over-investigation and over-treatment is now one of the greatest threats to western health

A few weeks ago my mum was admitted to hospital with a life-threatening pneumonia, induced by an immuno-suppressive medication she was taking for her rheumatoid arthritis. When the chest x-ray revealed infection in both lungs my father and I, both doctors, understood that her condition was serious. But we also knew that if anyone could fight this, it was one of the toughest and inspirational individuals, a woman who 10 years ago survived a brain haemorrhage.

But after several days into her stay, once the markers in her blood and oxygen levels started to improve, I was particularly concerned when she became uncharacteristically negative and tearful saying: "Just let me go. I’ve suffered enough." Several days of eating unpalatable hospital food and sleeping poorly had started to have an adverse effect on her physical and psychological condition. Despite starting to recover from the acute cause of her admission she was now being put at risk of an affliction that affects thousands of hospitalised patients daily.

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