Why is an evidence-based statement being ignored?

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The Wall Street Journal today has a big splash, “CT Scans Gain Favor as Option for Colonoscopy.” But in this 1,300-word article, there isn’t one mention of the recent statement by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force “that the evidence is insufficient to assess the benefits and harms of computed tomographic colonography” and that “there is potential for both benefit and harm. Potential harms arise from additional diagnostic testing and procedures for lesions found incidentally, which may have no clinical significance. This additional testing also has the potential to burden the patient and adversely impact the health system.”

This insistence by journalists to trumpet new technologies and their refusal to acknowledge an independent, evidence-based conclusion is very troubling.

I just don’t get it.

The USPSTF statement was issued just 3 weeks ago, so it isn’t like it gathered dust or is outdated.

And it’s written by independent experts from various fields with no skin in the game – not by radiologists or gastroenterologists or by any interest group.

Evidence insufficient. Harms may occur. Newer isn’t always better. Why isn’t that part of the story?

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maggie mahar

October 28, 2008 at 3:21 pm

We all know that when it comes to healthcare stories that might effect them, readers prefer good news–breakthroughs . . .medicine advances . .
But it’s not just readers. Who manages and runs most major mainstream publications in America?
Older white men.
And what do these men most fear?
Death. (Here, I refer you to the film, “Moonstruck,” where Olympia DuKakis explains this.)
In my experience as a jouranlist, many older editors really don’t like stories which suggest that our medical knowledge is iffy, that many of our treatments are ineffective, that they might not live forever…
Particularly if the story has anything to do with Cancer or Heart Disease.
I would add: this is why the editorial board of the WSJ has always been urging the FDA to fast-track new medicines (even if unproven.)