Suffering sciatica! How 2 stories on same study reported with different emphases

This week we were presented with another opportunity to see how the framing of stories about medical studies matters. Are results reported almost unquestioningly, with an emphasis on potential benefits but with few or no caveats or limitations? Or is the potential benefit of the results presented right alongside potential limitations – with caveats and […]


News release labeling to combat a global scourge of exaggerated claims

Even with an unfolding pandemic, there’s no shortage of overreaching public relations news releases to mislead the public. Australia’s University of Queensland announced its researchers would deploy “rapid response technology” to develop a coronavirus vaccine “which could be available worldwide in as little as six months.” (Maybe we should wait six months to see if it, […]


How easy it is to be misled by Medicare Advantage marketing

Since I’ve started writing more about Medicare now that I am more learned and experienced with the program as a person of that age group, I want to share an important piece from the Center for Medicare Advocacy. The Center has published a series of articles “to counter-balance Medicare Advantage industry advertising.” Medicare Advantage plans […]


A machine-versus-doctors fixation masks important questions about artificial intelligence

Next time you go to the doctor, remember to bring your genome card.  What, you don’t have one? Of course you don’t. Wallet-sized cards containing a person’s genetic code don’t exist.  Yet they were envisioned in a 1996 Los Angeles Times article, which predicted that by 2020 the makeup of a person’s genome would drive […]


After a year on Medicare, advice for journalists on stories that need to be told

The annual Medicare open enrollment period ends soon.  America’s seniors have faced a blizzard of dismaying news about the program. Here are some excerpts from newsworthy stories that you should be aware of. The $11 Million Dollar Medicare Tool That Gives Seniors the Wrong Insurance Information – Pro Publica. Excerpt: “The federal government recently redesigned […]


Why hire a full-time health reporter when you can buy news off the shelf?

While somewhere there is still some important investigative reporting going on in some local TV stations, here is a fresh warning to anyone who gets much of their health care information from local TV health news. A recent case in point – seen on television stations across the country – is news about a minimally […]


Another conflicted all-expenses-paid junket offer by the National Press Foundation

Two months from now we will be in mid-winter, late January. How about four days in warm, sunny West Palm Beach, Florida? All-expenses-paid. How inviting. But how troubling.  Once again. An email was sent to journalists this week announcing this junket funded by Bayer, a multinational drug company.  Bayer markets a number of cardiovascular drugs […]


Theranos redux? Not really. But claim of a ‘simple’ test for breast cancer warrants scrutiny

Once again the lure of a “simple” test has made headlines. This time the catalyst was a news release issued by the UK’s National Cancer Research Institute. Its title: “Simple blood test for early detection of breast cancer.” In fact, no such test exists. As the body of the PR news release acknowledged, it’s an […]


Breast center marketing pitch via reporter’s live-streamed mammogram was a bad idea

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is over for another year.  But it’s not too late to reflect on, and learn from, one of the most troublesome breast center marketing ideas in recent memory. As described in stories all over the globe, including in the Washington Post, the NBC Today Show website, People magazine, Adweek, and Fox News, a […]


How one bit of medical jargon fuels public confusion about cancer treatments

Most new cancer treatments haven’t been proven to help patients live longer or feel better. Instead they delay the growth of tumors — which may be faster to measure but doesn’t necessarily indicate a tangible benefit for patients. But you wouldn’t grasp that sobering fact from some recent news coverage: A headline in the UK’s […]


Tips & Resources for Analyzing Health Care Claims

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