1 5/11/2018

A win for readers: coverage of new prostate cancer screening guidelines focuses on shared decision making

When the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a statement recommending against prostate cancer screening in 2012, its guidance was met with often vituperative attacks from professional organizations and advocacy groups. The muted response to new recommendations released this past Tuesday supporting personalized decision making for men 55 to 69 must have come as […]


Non-inferiority trials require careful scrutiny: An update to our toolkit

Sometimes a news report proclaims that a treatment or test has been found to be “just as good as” another one. But is that really the case? In medicine, a finding that one approach is just as effective as another is often the result of what’s known as a “non-inferiority trial.” Unlike more common and […]


Crowdfunding’s dark side: When patients seek help paying for stem cell treatments, misinformation rules

Should you donate to a friend’s or family member’s crowdfunding campaign to help pay for medical costs? It may seem like an easy answer, but a new study indicates how thorny that decision can be — particularly when people seek money for unproven stem cell treatments that are not covered by health insurance. By parroting […]

4 5/8/2018

NIH uses dodgy PR to enroll one million Americans in its ‘All of Us’ precision medicine program

Something huge, expensive, arguably controversial and allegedly revolutionary happened on Sunday to modest fanfare. Three years after it was announced by President Barack Obama, the ambitious precision health initiative — now rebranded as the “All of Us” research program — was launched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 7 cities across the United […]

3 5/7/2018

Thyroid disease patient reacts to ‘insulting’ Women’s Health magazine piece

This is just one little story about one woman reacting to one magazine article that bothered her. But I think it’s important because it’s a window into the reactions that patients can have when they see stories about their condition.  And those reactions and deeply-felt frustrations may not come to the surface very often.  This […]


5-Star Friday: Put these gems on your weekend reading list

Journalists as watchdogs. Safeguarding the public’s interests. We need you now more than ever. If only because the medical industrial complex sometimes has a different set of priorities. Different interests. William Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic, once said: “The best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered.” […]

3 5/3/2018

Despite screaming headlines, England’s breast cancer screening computer glitch didn’t kill anyone

A bureaucratic snafu in England has generated international headlines bemoaning the deaths of hundreds of women. Some coverage, such as this CNN story picked up by KSAT in San Antonio, brought visions of a mass casualty event on the scale of a terrorist attack or airline crash: Dozens of other news outlets chimed in with similarly […]

2 5/2/2018

NYT ponders if IV drug users should get ‘second chance’ at heart surgeries, triggering outcry from addiction experts

An article published Sunday in the New York Times has triggered an impassioned social media response — mostly from addiction experts — expressing frustration over how people with addiction are stigmatized by the medical community, and how media coverage can perpetuate the problem. Here’s the headline: Injecting Drugs Can Ruin a Heart. How Many Second Chances […]


Dark chocolate and health: Fudging the evidence with USA Today

  Want a simple way to know if you should be skeptical about a health claim? Look for the word “support” used as a verb. As in, USA Today’s claim on Twitter that “Research suggests chocolate with a minimum of 70% cacao can support cognitive, endocrine and cardiovascular health.” How does dark chocolate “support” your […]

7 4/30/2018

Patients with a rare stomach disorder express alarm as TV news promotes nerve freezing for weight loss

Tiffany Mielcarek was aghast when she saw NBC’s Today Show hype an experimental weight loss procedure that freezes a branch of the vagus nerve that sends hunger signals to the brain and regulates digestion. “They were talking about it as if this were a miracle. No risks were brought up at all,” said the 48-year-old […]


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