Health News Review
  • Oct 3 2012

    How robotic surgery is promoted on the other side of the globe

    Somehow someone added me to the mailing list for news releases from a hospital in Mumbai.  How/why this happens, one can only guess. But if they’re going to send ‘em, I may write about ‘em – even though maybe not with the slant the PR folks wanted. The latest news release from them sheds light on how robotic surgery is promoted in other places. Excerpts of the news release: Fastest 50 Robotic Surgeries In 70 days, the spe…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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 magical touch on the prostate Cancer survivors meet lifesaving surgical robot Robotic surgeon’s han…

  • Mar 16 2012

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

    …about a news release they’ve received, one writing: “This one takes the prize for tasteless press release of the month.” It’s the latest in a long line of hospital news releases promoting their robotic surgery systems. The subject line of the email news release is: PIONEERING ROBOTIC TECHNOLOGY GIVES A LOVING WIFE A SECOND CHANCE.  Here’s the body of the news release: Venice hospital’s first da Vinci cardiac case (Ma…

  • 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 …

  • 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,…

  • Mar 12 2013

    Another bad example of reporting on robotic surgery

    The surgeon who blogs and tweets as The Skeptical Scalpel (@Skepticscalpel) started my day with a Tweet that read: 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…

  • Sep 4 2013

    Unaccountable health care…underreporting of robotic surgery problems

    A paper published online first by the Journal of Healthcare Quality, “Underreporting of Robotic Surgery Complications,” raises questions about how accurate a safety picture is publicly available. The paper is authored by Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins and two colleagues.  Makary is a frequent critic of the proliferation of robotic surgery systems. I found only a handful of news stories about the paper.  The best was by HealthLeade…

  • Apr 17 2012

    Fox News’ robotic surgeon medical news contributor

    analysis. He wrote me: The Fox segment seemed designed to confuse audiences. The host begins by describing a new robotic radiosurgery (Cyberknife) that the expert commentator then explains is neither a robotic procedure nor a surgery while at the same time showing clips from one of his robotic surgical procedures.   The banner graphic across the bottom of the screen reads “radiosurgery vs. robotic prostatectomy,” but Dr. Samadi launches into an i…




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