Health News Review
  • 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…

  • Mar 16 2013

    Ob-Gyns’ statement on robotic hysterectomy

    The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement on robotic surgery this week that concluded: Aggressive direct-to-consumer marketing of the latest medical technologies may mislead the public into believing that they are the best choice. Our patients deserve and need factual information about all of their treatment options, including costs, so that they can make truly informed health care decisions. Patients should be…

  • Jan 22 2014

    Paul Levy says someone should be fired – and he suggests who – for NYT daVinci ad

    Former hospital CEO Paul Levy continues his relentless questioning about the proliferation and marketing of robotic surgery systems with a blog post entitled, “Time to fire somebody.” It’s about an ad in the Sunday New York Times magazine. The ad was placed by da Vinci Surgery (or Intuitive) – the robotic surgery system company. But it features names and photos of members of the Division of General, Minimally Invasive and…

  • Jun 7 2011

    Ads & news (often resembling ads) fuel growing use of robotic prostatectomy

    An analysis, “Consumerism and its impact on robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy,” in the journal BJUI (formerly the British Journal of Urology) concluded that media coverage and marketing of robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy on the Internet is more widespread compared to laparoscopic and open radical methods of prostate removal. And that: “Disturbingly, the quality of websites using any technique for prostatectomy was …

  • Jun 8 2011

    Small town, small hospital example of how robotic surgery is promoted

    Lest anyone think that the recent studies showing how marketing is driving up the use of robotic prostatectomy (see yesterday’s post, “Ads & news (often resembling ads) fuel growing use of robotic prostatectomy“) is just academic hypothesis, let me roll out what promoters often do – an anecdote. After yesterday’s post, a physician (who wished to remain anonymous) wrote me: “Gary, I saw your post today a…

  • 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…

  • Apr 12 2012

    Direct-to-consumer website promotion of robotic prostatectomy

    A paper in Health Affairs – “Direct-To-Consumer Internet Promotion Of Robotic Prostatectomy Exhibits Varying Quality Of Information” (subscription required) – adds to mounting questions about the marketing and promotion of this technology. A team of researchers analyzed claims made in online promotions of robotic surgery for prostate cancer. Excerpts of the paper: “We found that many sites claimed benefits that were…

  • 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 publicity.  The story states that local doctors demonstrating the robotic system claimed: “robotics has really chang…

  • Feb 26 2010

    The news love affair with robotic surgery – even simulators

    We’ve written before about some of the headlines praising robotic surgery: • Robot doctor – surgery of tomorrow • Da Vinci puts magical touch on the prostate • Cancer survivors meet lifesaving surgical robot • Robotic surgeon’s hands never tremble • Da Vinci is code for faster recovery • Surgical Maestro • DA VINCI ROBOT IS SURGERY WORK OF ART Now even the news that a company is testing a couple of robotic-surgery-training-…

  • Dec 6 2013

    Robotic surgery recall prompts “dear reporter” message from ex-hospital CEO

    Paul Levy, former medical center CEO, blogs, “Dear health care reporters: Look this way.” He points to Bloomberg’s continued coverage of questions about robotic surgery systems, including this week’s news about “an urgent recall” because of systems stalling during operations. And his note to reporters: “…the recall affects 1,386 of the systems worldwide.  You’d think that some health care rep…




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