Health News Review
  • Apr 11 2012

    Canada has 1 surgical robot for every 97 in the U.S.

    The surgeon who blogs as the Skeptical Scalpel – and who is a frequent critic of the proliferation of robotic surgical systems – is at it again, this time posting “Robots attack America, but Canada not so much.”   (Addendum on April 12:  Don’t miss our later post on direct-to-consumer website promotion of robotic prostatectomy.) [...]

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  • Mar 26 2012

    Another study analyzes hospitals’ unsubstantiated marketing claims for robotic surgery

    MedPage Today reports: Among hospitals that marketed robotic gynecologic surgery on their websites, as many as 90% touted benefits that have minimal evidence-based support. Claims related to reduced pain, shorter recovery, and decreased blood loss were cited by 76% or more of hospitals that promoted robotic capabilities. Few hospital websites cited evidence-based data to back [...]

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  • Mar 22 2012

    Major-market TV news glorification of “scarless” robotic surgery

    An example of how major-market television news delivers gee-whiz, awestruck segments on robotic surgery. This is from the NBC station in Los Angeles. The formula is familiar: surgeon comes on the set still wearing scrubs he says he just did 3 robotic procedures that day one of them was “first single-site, single-incision gallbladder removal done [...]

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  • Mar 16 2012

    Latest example in how hospitals promote robotic surgery: “tasteless” says one journalist

    This week we’ve already written about marketing of “preventive MRI scans” and of a free nose job promotion. I often write about these medical marketing messages because I think the public should see some of the promotions that go on behind the scenes to try to convince journalists to write about treatments, tests, products and [...]

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  • Feb 27 2012

    Chicago Tribune examines spread of robotic surgery “despite inconclusive evidence”

    Trine Tsouderos of the Chicago Tribune published a noteworthy story, “Remote-control surgery grows, despite inconclusive evidence.“  Excerpts: Intuitive Surgical is a medical sensation, transforming surgery in some fields, especially gynecology and urology, in about a decade. More than 250,000 hysterectomies and prostate removal surgeries were done with the da Vinci last year, according to the [...]

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  • Feb 16 2012

    Key quotes from Reuters story on overtreatment

    Nothing new, just good perspective in a Reuters piece, “Stemming the tide of overtreatment in U.S. healthcare.” And some great quotes.  Examples: “I don’t trust professional societies to (set clinical guidelines) because that’s how they make money – by doing tests and procedures,” said MIT healthcare economist Dr. Jonathan Gruber; “When hospitals buy robots they [...]

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  • Feb 6 2012

    How hospitals recoup the cost of buying robotic surgery systems

    The blogger known only as the Skeptical Scalpel (self-described as a surgeon for 40 years and a surgical department chairman and residency program director for over 23 of those years) continues his thread of posts raising questions about the proliferation of robotic surgery. The latest is entitled “Study: Robotic surgery financials explained.” It’s his take [...]

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  • Jan 4 2012

    “Gizmo idolatry,” robotic prostatectomy, and real data

    Robotic prostatectomy has spread all over the US despite the fact that we don’t have clinical trial data to show that it’s better than traditional open surgery.  The marketing of the new, the high-tech, is amplified by news coverage that uses headlines such as the following: Robot doctor – surgery of tomorrow Da Vinci puts [...]

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  • Jan 3 2012

    Specialist: using robot for sleep apnea surgery like using rifle to kill an ant

    Ear, nose and throat specialist Christopher Chang, MD, blogged about a Newark Star-Ledger story he saw about “surgeons on the cutting edge in fight against sleep apnea” using robotic surgery. Chang wrote: “My feeling is that using a robot to perform sleep apnea surgery is way overkill akin to using a $50,000 sniper rifle to [...]

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  • Dec 16 2011

    Come to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap…or play with his robotic surgery system

    The Watchdog’s elves are everywhere this Christmas season, and one of them reports that a New Jersey medical center is promoting its robotic surgery system in a very upscale mall. This particular elf took a photo to send to Watchdog Santa. It turns out that a local news website added to the medical center’s free [...]

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