Health News Review
  • Jul 8 2014

    What does an 87% accurate Alzheimer’s test mean? Not much without positive predictive value.

    What does it mean to say that a new test is 87% accurate? I think most journalists writing about a paper published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia could not satisfactorily answer that question – about a statistic they repeatedly quoted in stories about that paper. The answer is:  Not much, if you don’t take [...]

    2 Comments
  • Jul 1 2014

    Watch World Cup, get free skin CA screening – more hospital marketing

    It’s a new twist on “having skin in the game.” During today’s USA World Cup match, Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City tweeted: Ok to cheer for the red, white and blue. But with these “free skin cancer screenings,” I wonder if people were told that: The US Preventive Services Task Force concludes “that [...]

    2 Comments
  • Jul 1 2014

    Conflict of interest: ABC allows Ob-Gyn/”journalist” to report her opinion on pelvic exam recommendations

    From MedPageToday: Average-risk, asymptomatic women do not benefit from pelvic exams as part of routine care and face potential harms from false-positive results, according to a new clinical guideline. When screening for cervical cancer, clinicians should limit the physical examination to visual inspection of the cervix and use of cervical swabs for cancer or human [...]

    16 Comments
  • Jun 27 2014

    A couple of docs react strongly to NYT “Well” blog post on vitamin D screening

    The US Preventive Services Task Force this week released new draft guidelines on screening for Vitamin D deficiency. The draft “concludes that current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for vitamin D deficiency.”  Other bullet points: There is no consensus definition of vitamin D deficiency the accuracy of [...]

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  • Jun 27 2014

    The long list of warnings about community screening programs is getting longer

    Otis Brawley, MD, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society has said: “Many of these free screening things are designed more to get patients for hospitals and clinics and doctors than they are to benefit the patients. That’s a huge ethical issue that needs to be addressed.” Three authors, including the executive vice president [...]

    2 Comments
  • Jun 26 2014

    Questioning some of the ways in which new drug treatments are reported to the public

    While I’m working on a grant proposal to keep this project alive, my publishing efforts have fallen off a bit.  But it’s comforting to know that somebody else is doing some watchdog work – somebody like Paul Raeburn at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker. This week he wrote, “Cystic fibrosis breakthrough, or Wall Street coup?” [...]

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  • Jun 26 2014

    Readers react to mouse fitness study on NY Times “Well” blog – and I agree

    Earlier this week I praised one New York Times blog piece. But I have a quite different reaction to another I just read. The Times’ “Well” blog published a piece, “For Fitness, Push Yourself.“  It was about tips for you. The column fits in among other recent personal health postings on the blog on: heart [...]

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  • Jun 25 2014

    Which journalists reported an extra dimension on the 3-D mammography story?

    Faithful to the latest journal article, many news organizations dutifully reported what they were told by authors of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Breast Cancer Screening Using Tomosynthesis in Combination with Digital Mammography.“  The list of stories that resorted to sensational language – breakthrough, game-changer, best way of detection, [...]

    2 Comments
  • Jun 24 2014

    Important story on NYT blog: When Advance Directives Are Ignored

    Paula Span wrote a very important story on the New York Times‘ New Old Age blog about how – despite the best efforts – a dying person’s documented wishes might be unknown or ignored. The story discusses one possible solution – the use of a POLST form.  POLST stands for a Physician Orders for Life [...]

    3 Comments
  • Jun 23 2014

    Oz, Oliver, and Outrage About Nutritional Supplements

    On his “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” program on HBO, the host tore into Dr. Oz, his Senate testimony last week, and the regulation (or lack thereof) of nutritional supplements.  The segment discusses Senators Harken and Hatch and their roles in the latter.  It includes classic Oz clips, like talking with Cameron Diaz about [...]

    7 Comments