A news story’s role in the death of son of Mothers Against Medical Error founder

Helen Haskell first learned about the surgical procedure that would ultimately kill her son by reading a local newspaper article. The article described the surgery, known as the Nuss procedure, as “a revolutionary type of surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina.” It was being marketed as a new way to surgically correct pectus […]

1 4/19/2018

Between news release hype and peer-reviewed publication, patients wait in limbo

There is a delay of about 300 days from the time a drug company issues a news release about a new study of a cancer drug, to the time the complete results of the study are are published in a peer-reviewed journal. This according to a study published last week in JAMA Oncology. This certainly […]


Uncovering new peer review problems – this time at The BMJ

A study published recently in The BMJ addressed a question with surefire media appeal: Does the political affiliation of doctors affect the quality of care that they provide to patients at the end of their lives? The story was snapped up by news organizations ranging from US News and World Report to the UK Daily […]

1 4/17/2018

On our 12th anniversary, we introduce a new series: patient harm from misleading media

April 17, 2018 is our 12th anniversary of daily publishing.  From the time we launched HealthNewsReview.org 12 years ago, we have been concerned about the very real harm that can be done to some patients from misleading media messages. Our project is perhaps the only one in the U.S. that provides the general public the […]

3 4/16/2018

A breast cancer study in mice gets big headlines, setting up potential for patient ‘disaster,’ experts say

“I spoke to several cancer specialists in New York City last night who said ‘caution, this is not ready for primetime.’” — ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton. That’s the key quote from a recent Good Morning America “Cover Story” segment about a mouse study exploring why breast cancer sometimes spreads in the immediate months […]


5-Star Friday: Drugs, mice, and money

I doubt a week goes by at HealthNewsReview.org that we don’t write about one of the following … … drugs, mice, or money. You could rightly accuse me of being predictable when I say that following the money has gotten trickier in health care journalism; that pharma as a lobbyist makes the auto industry of […]

2 4/11/2018

Today Show segment on ‘nerve freezing’ for weight loss leaves us cold. Here’s why.

Just when many Americans are pondering how they will fit into their bathing suits this summer, NBC’s Today Show has delivered an answer: nerve freezing. A segment last week had host Megyn Kelly fawning over the “success” of a nurse named Melissa Donovan, who said she lost 25 pounds after undergoing an experimental procedure to […]


A cancer doctor speaks out: How premature hype about experimental drugs fails patients

Last Friday, several news outlets reported that a study of a cancer drug combination cocktail showed it didn’t help melanoma patients live any longer, when compared to using one of the drugs alone. Specifically, the study was examining if adding an experimental drug known as epacadostat would boost the effectiveness of the checkpoint inhibitor drug […]


Gee-whiz news coverage doesn’t ask whether mobile stroke units will help patients

Recently we wrote about lopsided news coverage of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a drug used in emergency rooms to open blocked vessels in patients suspected of having a stroke. While experts vigorously debate whether tPA helps patients, there’s a movement underway to speed the administration of this clot-buster by deploying specially equipped ambulances called mobile […]


Baby wipes ’cause’ food allergies? What you need to know

Here’s an example of what can happen when a study author makes grandiose claims, a news release unabashedly promotes these claims, and a host of reporters run with it because the topic is popular (food allergies) and the affected group is vulnerable (babies). How baby wipes are making your baby sick (NY Post) Baby wet […]


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