What We're Reading: Unnecessary Screening; Brain Food; Wasteful Healthcare Spending

December 22, 2017

Older patients are often subjected to unnecessary screening; older people who eat more leafy greens have slower cognitive decline; a look at some ways to reduce wasteful spending in healthcare.

Unnecessary Screening in Older Patients

Overuse of screening is a problem throughout the United States, including in older patients who are not recommended to receive some screening. According to Kaiser Health News, patients who have limited life expectancy and aren’t recommended to receive certain tests are still receiving regular mammograms or prostate-specific antigen tests. Screening people in their 70s or 80s may detect slow-growing tumors that can take years to develop and are unlikely to cause problems in a patient’s life before he or she dies of something else. There is also a high rate of cancer screenings for people with dementia, who usually live just a few years.

Leafy Vegetables Help Keep the Brain Young

A study has shown that older people who eat at least 1 serving of leafy greens daily had slower cognitive decline. Los Angeles Times reported that people who regularly ate kale, spinach, collard greens, lettuce, and similar vegetables had cognitive scores similar to someone 11 years younger. Research has suggested that the nutrients in leafy greens may protect the brain against inflammation, toxic proteins, and neuronal damage and death.

Reducing Wasteful Healthcare Spending

Approximately one-fourth of what the US healthcare system spends each year is estimated to be wasteful spending. A new investigation from ProPublica took a look at the some of the ways the US healthcare system wastes money, such as brand-new supplies and gently used equipment being discarded by hospitals and unused prescription drugs at nursing homes that get tossed. However, the investigation also found that there are forces in the industry that make it difficult to eliminate the waste because they benefit from it.