What Are the Dangers in Screening for Diseases?

Dalrymple reports at Pajamas Media on a recent study finding that trials of various medical screening procedures tend to report the procedures’ successes and avoid reporting their failures, and the benefits of many screens may not therefore outweigh their detriments:

This is particularly important ethically because screening reverses the usual relationship between patient and health-care system. In screening it is the health-care system that initiates the contact, not the other way round. Screening is offered to healthy people, or at least to those complaining of nothing; moreover, the chances of benefit from screening are often slight and those who do benefit from them do so in a sense at the expense of those who are harmed by them. The moral imperative to know the harms of screening is therefore great.

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