A new study from the Dartmouth Atlas Project finds many children in northern New England receive potentially unneeded medical care that could have harmful side effects.
Researchers compared data for a range of care across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine for children under age 18.
Findings include high rates of antidepressant use in Claremont and two times as many visits to an emergency room for kids in Dover versus their peers in Burlington, Vermont.
Lead researcher Dr. David Goodman says there’s also inconsistency in procedures like tonsillectomies, despite limited evidence that they cure symptoms.
“The variation in the procedure is tremendous across northern New England. Children, for example, in Lebanon, New Hampshire were more than twice as likely to have their tonsils removed as children in Bangor, Maine.”
Goodman says only a relatively small amount of the variation is due to differences in socio-economic status. He says well-meaning doctors may lack the information they need to make better decisions.