“…Health Care News Stories Often Emphasize or Exaggerate Potential Benefits, Minimize or Ignore Potential Harms, and Ignore Cost Issues.”

The JAMA Internal Medicine article included the following abstract “From April 16, 2006, through May 30, 2013, a team of reviewers from HealthNewsReview.org, many of whom were physicians, evaluated the reporting by US news organizations on new medical treatments, tests, products, and procedures. After reviewing 1889 stories … the reviewers graded most stories unsatisfactory on 5 of 10 review criteria: costs, benefits, harms, quality of the evidence, and comparison of the new approach with alternatives. Drugs, medical devices, and other interventions were usually portrayed positively; potential harms were minimized, and costs were ignored. Our findings can help journalists improve their news stories and help physicians and the public better understand the strengths and weaknesses of news media coverage of medical and health topics.”

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Unnecessary Tests and Procedures in the Health Care System

The Choosing Wisely article noted “Physicians Say Unnecessary Tests and Procedures Are a Serious Problem, and Feel a Responsibility to Address the Issue.”

“Physicians say unnecessary tests and procedures represent a serious problem in the health care system. A majority of physicians feels a strong responsibility to help their patients avoid unnecessary care.”

“84 percent of physicians are interested in learning more about evidence-based recommendations that address when tests and procedures may be unnecessary. Physicians with exposure to the Choosing Wisely campaign are 17 points more likely to have reduced the number of tests or procedures they have done in the last 12 months. 45 percent of primary care physicians say they have seen or heard about the Choosing Wisely campaign after a description.”

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“…Physicians Believe That Fellow Doctors Prescribe an Unnecessary Test or Procedure…”

The Kaiser Health News article noted “The most frequent reasons that physicians order extraneous—and costly—medical care are fears of being sued, impulses to be extra careful and desires to reassure their own assessments of the patient…”

“… Choosing Wisely, a two-year old campaign devised by a foundation created by internal medicine doctors … has persuaded nearly 60 medical societies to identify overused tests and procedures. The goal is to cut back on needless medical care, which by some estimates may waste a third of the $2.8 trillion the country spends on health each year.”

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Hospital Runs Ad for $1,995 Colonoscopies in Sunday Newspaper

The Becker Hospital Review article reported “A hospital in New Hampshire is garnering some attention after it advertised its colonoscopies for a flat rate in the Sunday newspaper.”

“Elliot Hospital in Manchester, N.H., is using CareBundles to set all-inclusive fees for colonoscopies, hernia repair ($4,995) and knee arthroscopy ($5,995), according to a New Hampshire Public Radio report. Only the uninsured can get these set-price procedures for now, although the hospital is hoping to launch relationships with employers.”

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“Incidentalomas” + – Concerns about Overdiagnosing and Overtreating Cancer

The Wall Street Journal article noted “Removing the word ‘cancer’ from the terminology used for many slow-growing lesions in the breast, prostate, lung, skin and other body areas could ease patients’ fears and reduce the inclination of doctors to treat them aggressively, says a panel of experts advising the National Cancer Institute.”

“…new diagnostic technology is finding ever smaller abnormalities that are unlikely to be lethal, but are being labeled cancer and treated as if they were. The result: billions of dollars in unnecessary surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.”

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Dirty Dollars! “Talk about Dirty Money: Scientists Are Discovering a Surprising Number of Microbes Living on Cash.”

The Wall Street Journal article noted “In the first comprehensive study of the DNA on dollar bills, researchers at New York University’s Dirty Money Project found that currency is a medium of exchange for hundreds of different kinds of bacteria as bank notes pass from hand to hand.”

“In the first genome study of the DNA on money, NYU researchers identified 3,000 types of bacteria on a set of one-dollar bills collected in New York.”

“Easily the most abundant species they found is one that causes acne. Others were linked to gastric ulcers, pneumonia, food poisoning and staph infections, the scientists said. Some carried genes responsible for antibiotic resistance.”

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1881 – Assassination of President Garfield

“What Dr. Towsend did next was something that Joseph Lister, despite years spent traveling the world, proving the source of infection and pleading with physicians to sterilize their hands and instruments, had been unable to prevent. As the president lay on the train station floor, one of the most germ-infested environments imaginable, Towsend inserted an unsterilized finger into the would in his back, causing a small hemorrhage, and almost certainly introducing an infection that was far more lethal than Guiteau’s bullet.”

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Childhood Fever – Nineteenth Century Medical Mystery

Ignaz Semmelweis, a young Hungarian doctor working in the obstetrical ward of Vienna General Hospital in the late 1840s, was dismayed at the high death rate among his patients.

He had noticed that nearly 20% of the women under his and his colleagues’ care in “Division I” (physicians and male medical students) of the ward died shortly after childbirth.

This phenomenon had come to be known as “childbed fever.” Alarmingly, Semmelweis noted that this death rate was four to five times greater than that in “Division II” (female midwifery students) of the ward.

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“Robot versus Surgeon: No Clear Winner”

An article in Medpage Today noted “Robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) led to complication rates, readmission rates, and rates of additional cancer therapy similar to those of conventional surgical prostatectomy, a review of almost 6,000 cases showed.”

“First-year reimbursements were greater for patients undergoing robot assisted compared with open radical prostatectomy.”

“Introduced a decade ago, robot-assisted prostatectomy has become the dominant surgical technique for patients with localized prostate cancer. Investigators in some studies have suggested that robotic prostatectomy has driven the overall prostatectomy rate to a level beyond what would have been expected given current demographic and clinical trends.”

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“…Now the NIH Says That This Routine Gender Bias in Basic Research Must End.”

The New York Times article noted “For decades, scientists have embarked on the long journey toward a medical breakthrough by first experimenting on laboratory animals. Mice or rats, pigs or dogs, they were usually male: Researchers avoided using female animals for fear that their reproductive cycles and hormone fluctuations would confound the results of delicately calibrated experiments.”

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