Is More Medical Care Better Medical Care? Dartmouth Study Says Not Necessarily

Study of the implications of increased diagnostic and therapeutic capacity in health care

Between 1997 and 2001 Investigators at the Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth Medical Center, Hanover, N.H, conducted two research projects that examined how the increasing availability of health care technology and specialist physicians influence the delivery of health care and health outcomes.

Key Findings

  • There was little difference in the risk of death among newborns in regions with the lowest and highest levels of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) beds.

    The risk was somewhat greater in regions with the lowest numbers of neonatologists compared with regions with somewhat higher numbers of neonatologists.

    However, little additional benefit in survival was seen with further increases in the supply of neonatologists.
  • Medicare recipients in the highest spending regions received up to 60 percent more care than did those in the lowest spending regions.
  • Increased Medicare spending is not associated with improved survival, ability to engage in daily activities, quality of care, or satisfaction with care.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the project with a grant of $1,599,696.

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