Diagnosis as Disease

One of the first things we were taught in medical school was the pivotal role of thresholds in governing the human body. To trigger a nerve to fire or a muscle to contract, there must be a stimulus of electrical activity that exceeds a threshold value. If the threshold value is too low, muscles go into spasm and deadly rhythms develop in the heart. Low thresholds, however, aren’t just a problem for an individual’s health. They are increasingly a problem for the health of our medical care system. The threshold for diagnosis has fallen too low. Physicians are now making diagnoses in individuals who wouldn’t have been considered sick in the past.

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