Health News Review
  • May 2 2013

    Marketing marriage made in heaven (?) – medical center & mall & surgical robots

    In December of 2011 I wrote about about New Jersey’s Saint Barnabas medical center promoting its robotic surgery system to holiday shoppers at a New Jersey shopping mall. Then, in December of 2012, I wrote about the mall marketing trend spreading to places around the country. Now, the New Jersey medical center gets more publicity by discussing some of the marketing magic behind the mall-marries-medical center relationship. I thought I̵…

  • Oct 8 2013

    Bloomberg continues bulldog reporting on robotic surgery risks

    See Robert Langreth’s piece, “Robot Surgery Damaging Patients Rises With Marketing.” Langreth reflects on a familiar tale: Promotions that emphasize benefits, minimize or ignore harms “another breakthrough in robotic surgery” “Star Wars” comparisons Excerpt from the story: “Robotic surgeries are on the rise, fueled by aggressive marketing by doctors, hospitals and Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG), …

  • Jun 13 2014

    Robotic surgery news & marketing – misrepresentation of evidence

    “Under the glare of an operating theatre lamp….” Here it comes:  another drooling, fawning news story about robotic surgery – this time from The Guardian in the UK under the headline, “Newcastle hospital’s £2m robot transforms medical operations.” It was surprising to see how unquestioning the story was. The subheadline: “Dexterity of Da Vinci robot allows surgeons to operate with more precision an…

  • 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 on a paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association …

  • May 18 2011

    Hospital websites hype robotic surgery, ignore risks, influenced by manufacturer

    A paper published in the Journal for Healthcare Quality examined the content of information on 400 randomly selected U.S. hospital websites about robotic surgery. Results: “Forty-one percent of hospital websites described robotic surgery. Among these, 37% percent presented robotic surgery on their homepage, 73% used manufacturer-provided stock images or text, and 33% linked to a manufacturer website. Statements of clinical superiority we…

  • May 9 2013

    More questions about expanded uses of robotic surgery: gallbladder and bladder cancer operations

    Laparoscopic cholecystectomy, as Paul Levy writes on his Not Running A Hospital blog, is a surgery to remove a gall bladder using laparoscopic instruments through holes in the abdomen instead of cutting it open.  Lap choles, for short. “So, what do you do if you are a robotic surgery device company that has saturated the marketplace for robot-assisted prostate surgery…? Answer:  You try to create a demand for robot lap choles. You dr…

  • 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 up the claims, and the limitations of robotic surgery rarely appeared,…

  • Nov 19 2012

    New York Times “Novelties” story ramps up robotic hype

    A journalist wrote me: “Ack! Another rah rah rah robotic surgery article, this time in the Times.” The blogging surgeon known as the Skeptical Scalpel tweeted: Skeptical Scalpel ‏@Skepticscalpel ICYMI. Robotic surgery puff piece in the NY Times. http://is.gd/EjhZbe What draws their ire? A New York Times piece, “When Robotic Surgery Leaves Just a Scratch.” It discusses some new robotic surgery approaches, including …

  • Apr 17 2012

    Fox News’ robotic surgeon medical news contributor

    Fox News uses Dr. David Samadi, a New York urologist and “Chief of Robotics” at his NY hospital, as a “medical contributor.”  We’ve seen and heard him promote his pet approaches in the past.  He did it again this past Sunday, touting his own favorite approach over another approach known as the Cyberknife, along with sidekick physician medical news contributor Dr. Marc Siegel. I asked one of our medical editors, Dr…

  • Feb 17 2011

    Long learning curve for robotic prostate surgery: why not more stories on this? What are the human costs?

    If my Google search can be trusted at this moment, very few mainstream news organizations have reported on new robotic prostate surgery data presented at a cancer meeting in Florida this week. MedPageToday had the best story I’ve seen, “Long Learning Curve for Robotic Prostate Removal.” Excerpts: “Three experienced surgeons needed more than 1,600 cases to achieve acceptable outcomes with robotic-assisted laparoscopic p…




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