Podcast: The top 10 quotes of 2017

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Michael Joyce is a writer-producer with HealthNewsReview.org and tweets as @mlmjoyce

2017 podcasts year in reviewIn this podcast — our 13th of the year (and 38th episode since we started producing them in the summer of 2015) —  we take a look back at some memorable conversations from the past year.

We spoke with quite a mix of inspirational individuals, covered a wide range of fascinating topics, and thought we’d share with you what we considered to be some of the most compelling quotes.

So here you go … The Top 10 Quotes of 2017


For those of you who prefer text, here are those top ten quotes (there are actually 11, but if you listen to the podcast you’ll find out why!)

We’ve included all the links to the podcasts the quotes were taken from, just in case you want to hear more.

Full disclosure: I started my journalism career in radio. And I do love to read. But as I wrote back in August when we were celebrating our 2nd anniversary of the Health News Watchdog Podcasts:

“Those multiple voices — that tapestry — is what makes audio journalism fun. It’s one thing to read about someone agonizing over an abnormal mammogram or ominous diagnosis, and quite another to have them tell you about it in their words. You don’t have to read between the lines to find the emotion …. you hear it. It’s palpable.”


Former US Senator Dave Durenberger | from A conversation with Dave Durenberger on health care reform

“The big challenge that the media has, of course, is that they have to find a way to get paid for their services. That simply means taking on the unreal part of any big, costly system becomes a real challenge because all the money is in that unreal product, or unreal service. That exaggerated discovery. That exaggerated piece of evidence. If I were going to try and change something I’d focus myself on the quality of the researchers and the source of their income; to the extent that American academic medicine, and American think tanks, are bought and paid for by high dollar, high margin parts of our healthcare system. How do we know the reliable reporters from the not-so-reliable? Journalism – even philanthropic, foundation-supported think tanks – are bought and paid for. And if they aren’t they have the appearance of being bought and paid for. We are in trouble. ”

Urologist Chris Warlick, MD | Why a health care journalist chose active surveillance for prostate cancer

“Do you want to go down this road? These are the potential advantages. These are the potential disadvantages. Ask the patient what is important for you. Then, if you decide to undergo screening, and if you’re diagnosed with cancer, then there is a second level of shared decisions regarding treatment choices. Again, depending  on the severity of your disease, your life expectancy, and other health issues … there are going to be more risks and benefits with some approaches (potentially) then others. Again, coming back to what your priorities are: Quality of Live versus Quantity of Life. Which potential side effects do you think you could best live with, versus, those you couldn’t best live with. So all of this is always interpreted in the context of the patient.”

Breast Surgeon, Shelly Hwang, MD | DCIS … Searching for clarity

“If we accept the idea that different cancers need to be treated differently, I think what we also have to accept is that we’ve probably been treating some cancers with more treatment than is really required, and some cancers are getting less treatment than is required. And I think it’s the ‘less treatment’ part that people are really having a hard time with. Because I think all of us have this visceral fear of not doing the most we can. Again, getting back to the way our society and culture is structured to be ‘doers.’ And so just getting society more comfortable with the idea of de-escalation as being something that could be potentially more healthy than treatment is a very difficult concept. And very foreign to most of us.”

George Gibson (a patient harmed at a dubious stem cell clinic) | The wild west of stem cells

“At the time you’re just excited that they have some kind of hope for you. So talking to Dr. Levy he explained these were stem cells they took out of your hip, and they mimicked wherever you put ‘em. They were special kinds of cells, and they would then improve that area.  At that time he was telling everybody that 100 percent of people had success with it. They got about two to three lines on the eye chart. Well, in my case, I can’t really even see the eye chart … I can’t even read the ‘E’ … so since I’m almost at the ‘E’ I’ll be able to see line or two down on the chart and that would be a big help. I mean, they got 100 percent success rate. How can you lose?”

Social gerontologist, Tetyana Shippee, PhD | Why would a 23-year-old graduate student choose to live in a nursing home?

“My eyes were opened to issues of quality of life and not just quality of care. Much research – until recently – has focused on medical care in nursing homes. Which is important right? Like bedsores, restraints, psychotropic medications. All important. But what I saw by living in this facility was that quality of care alone is not sufficient.”

Journalist, Jeanne Lenzer | The list (the newly revised list of industry-independent experts for journalists)

“A lot of patients are outraged. And if you go online you can find all these patient groups of people who have been harmed. But it doesn’t make the big news. Because who is carrying that news? Who’s printing out all the news releases? Which is why I’m glad HealthNewsReview.org is around, and the Lown Institute is around, and other groups trying to say ‘look, the facts are ones that are being created, studied, and reviewed by people without financial conflicts.’ They don’t have the big bucks for PR groups. They don’t have the lawyers and the battalions of individuals who are going to jump out and issue press releases … and attack anyone who attacks their products. And that’s something else that’s been going on, and that’s knee-capping anyone who criticizes the products of industry.”

Journalist, Shannon Brownlee | The list

“Most of what we see in the media has this sort of inherent pro- ‘if it’s new it must be better; if it’s technological it must be better; and if a surgeon said it it must be good.’ And we have to start reporting the news in a very different way.”

Journalist, Jeannie Pinder | Health care costs — ‘a problem hiding in plain sight’

“People ought to know what stuff costs. It’s absurd that you can go in for a procedure and not have any idea. It’s like you went to the grocery store, filled up your grocery cart, and then six months later someone sent you a bill with a huge number of zeros at the end of it, saying this is what you’re going to pay for all of that. It’s crazy!”

Psychiatrist, Allen Frances, MD | A psychiatrist’s take on the DSM, Pharma, and Donald Trump

Allen Frances, MD

“And so they’ve been able to market drugs in a ridiculously, outlandishly, excessive way to people who shouldn’t be on them … 13 percent of Americans are now taking anti-depressants; you look at women over 45? A quarter of them are on anti-depressants. The Attention-Deficit Disorder epidemic has us now treating about 7 percent of our kids with stimulants. And the opioid epidemic — although not strictly within psychiatry, but related — has resulted in 38 percent the population having an opioid prescription in this remarkable and horrible epidemic … So we have a diagnostic system that was meant to discipline the field, but was opened up by misleading drug company marketing. And their access to the public is an indication of the power of money. They provide about twice as much money to politicians as any other industry. And that includes the energy and insurance industries, which are no mean lobbyists themselves”

Our publisher, Gary Schwitzer | Conflicts of interest at World Conference of Science Journalists

“You’d think that news organizations which have been under vicious attack in the current political environment, would do everything possible to ensure their integrity is intact. So why would news organizations and journalism organizations invite criticism that I (and I’m not alone) others think they deserve and is avoidable? There are other options that could be pursued rather than accepting sponsorship from the people you report on everyday. On these issues this is the time to reflect on your own personal ethic and then act on it.”

Physician, Victor Montori | A Mayo Clinic MD calls for a patient revolution

“So I was on a flight with another physician. And I said ‘How are things going?’ And he said ‘they suck.’ The physician said he wanted to take care of patients. That he wanted to have time to understand them and give them the care they needed. And he remembered at one  time being able to do that, but then it became increasingly more difficult. And then he told me about becoming sick himself and trying to get care and thinking ‘well as a physician I’ll be able to get the care I want and navigate,’ and find the system disregard him. He felt cheated. And we tried to figure out what changed. We discussed what perhaps had changed was ‘the soup,’ the essence, the context in which he and I were trying to be good doctors. A context in which perhaps what we needed to have in the first place was full commitment to the patient. And now we have commitments to the medical record, to the billing, to the payers, to all sorts of other people. And that’s killing health care as a potential way of making sure people have opportunities in their life to develop and become who they want to be. And do what they want to do. Because it’s become such an industrial complex that its now important in and of itself. And its own outcomes: economic outcomes and industrial outcomes take over from the outcomes of the patient. And that hurts patients. It hurts clinicians.  It’s essentially a corruption of the mission of health care. And we need to stop this. Health care has corrupted its mission. It has stopped caring. We need to turn away from industrial health care, and turn towards careful and kind care for all.”

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