Stephen Matthews Stephen.Matthews at acu.edu.au
Mon Mar 17 12:41:22 AEDT 2014

ACU Philosophy Seminar Series


“Overdiagnosis: a healthcare challenge for philosophy, ethics and policy”

FRIDAY March 21, 2.30 PM – 4PM
North Sydney, MacKillop Campus
Level 16 TWH Building, 8-20 Napier street

ACU talks are linked by videoconference to all ACU national campuses. In Sydney audience members can also attend Strathfield, MSM VC Room (E2.45 Room)

All enquiries: Steve Matthews (stephen.matthews at acu.edu.au)

Overdiagnosis refers to a range of healthcare activities or interventions which end up harming rather than helping patients. Overdiagnosis arises in a number of ways, such as when the definitions of disease are widened, when harmless or clinically insignificant lesions are diagnosed or treated, or when screening identifies benign as well as malignant conditions.
Apart from causing harm to patients who are diagnosed with conditions that, if left undiagnosed, would cause them no harm, overdiagnosis diverts healthcare resources away from the treatment of diseases with significant morbidity and mortality.
In this paper I identify three challenges associated with overdiagnosis. The first is philosophical – what kind of definition of disease will best identify harmful conditions and therefore be of value in addressing the problem of overdiagnosis? The second is ethical. Overdiagnosis is clearly harmful to patients but as yet there has been no mapping of the specific ethical issues that arise from different sources of overdiagnosis. The third challenge relates to policy and raises questions about how best to address the problems of overdiagnosis.

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