Health News Review
  • 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 …

  • Jul 30 2014

    Sit back & watch urologists go at it over robotic surgery claims

    I’m on vacation this week but I enjoyed sitting back and watching a urology kerfuffle over claims about a robotic surgery study and associated news release. Here’s what the American Urological Association (AUA) tweeted earlier today.  The Twitter responses are from a Pittsburgh urologist whose Twitter handle is @daviesbj. There’s a lot going on here, so let me break it down. The AUA’s link – in its Tweet – go…

  • 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…

  • Mar 16 2012

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

    …n to me 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 …

  • Feb 5 2014

    Cancer fundraiser toys with truth in using robotic surgery to get donations

    Canadians may have thought they had been transported south of the border, where robotic surgery is widely and wildly promoted all the time. But this week, for World Cancer Day, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation posted this fundraising plea: The website explains: “Give 6 patients the best surgery while changing cancer care internationally with your gift to robotic surgery. ” In calling robotic surgery “the best surgery,&#…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…




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