Houston Chronicle’s hard-hitting exposé on robotic surgery. http://is.gd/lT5ed4
You have to know his work and his style to know that he was being sarcastic about “hard hitting exposé.”
The headline of the piece is:
Advances in surgeries with robots reduce risks and trim recovery times
The lead paragraph is:
What if you could have a major surgery with only a short hospital stay, very little pain, low risk of infection, little blood loss, minimal scarring, and a fast recovery and return to normal daily activities?
Unfortunately, readers are never given any evidence about reduced risk, trimmed recovery times, shorter hospital stay, very little pain or any of the other claims in the headline and lead.
The entire piece – as so many stories about robotic surgery tend to do – focuses on what it means to the surgeon:
While we all want surgeons who are comfortable with what they do (if we choose surgery), these testimonials do not necessarily equate to improved patient outcomes.
And while the story discusses using the robot in some new applications, patients/readers should be told something about the learning curve. How long does it take a surgeon, using a new device in a new way for a different condition on a different part of the body, to become proficient? If the answer is 500 cases, would you want to be numbers 1 – 499?
That’s what was missing in the “hard hitting exposé.”
Journalists can do better in reporting on new technologies, and on the proliferation of new technologies into new fields. And if they don’t, they’ll have to live with comments, like some of these, left in response to the Houston Chronicle story:
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