This story is about research on a device that might be a long-term substitute for heart transplantation.
But the story is long on hyperbole and short on (in fact, almost completely devoid of) any facts, data or evidence about how well the device in question works, how safe it is, etc.
The hyperbole comes into play when the story calls this "a revolutionary new experimental technology (that) may be a lifesaver for thousands." But the story never gives any indication of why this is revolutionary – and certainly no evidence to support the projection that it could save the lives of thousands.
There was no discussion of potential harms from the implantation of the device or its longterm use. Costs were not discussed.
All we get is the rosy story of one patient (only 6 months post-implant) of one clinical investigator at one medical center. The story needed independent perspectives, and a better review of the pitfalls of past devices, in order to come close to being a helpful or complete story.
The story didn’t mention anything about cost – likely to be a significant issue for any such implantation and device.
The story called this "a revolutionary new experimental technology (that) may be a lifesaver for thousands" without ever giving any evidence of how well it works.
In a story that contained no evidence whatsoever about the use of the device, the harms of this device and its implantation – the downfall of so many similar devices in the past – were never mentioned. In fact, the story minimizes potential drawbacks by simply saying: …"allowed him to quickly resume (how quickly?) his normal life (normal life?) with just a few medications (?) and a few idiosyncrasies (?) to get used to." The story should give some detail on the meds and especially should define what is meant by "idiosyncrasies" which seems like tremendous euphemism for the potentially important drawbacks to having this experimental heart pump.
There was not one shred of evidence discussed to support use of the device – a glaring omission for a story that referred to the device as "a revolutionary new experimental technology (that) may be a lifesaver for thousands."
No overt disease mongering. Some attempt was made to characterize end-stage heart failure, noting that the profiled patient "was among the 90% of patients with chronic heart failure unlikely to get one of the 2,000 or so donor hearts available ever year."
Only one investigator at only one medical center was quoted. If this is "a revolutionary new experimental technology (that) may be a lifesaver for thousands," the story should have included the perspectives of someone not so involved in the clinical trial to give us that independent assessment. A single source in a story like this makes it an incomplete effort.
There was no discussion of alternative treatment options for the "90% of patients with chronic heart failure unlikely to get one of the 2,000 or so donor hearts available every year." Worse, the story quotes one patient saying, "The choices that were presented to me, I don’t have many left." But we never hear anything about what those choices might be. The story creates a false dichotomy of "new device" versus death. Many patients with chronic heart failure manage with medications.
Is the device approved by the FDA? Is it available only in clinical trials? How widespread is its use or are the clinical trial sites? None of these questions were addressed in the story.
Although the story made passing reference to past artificial heart or assist devices, the story never explained what was truly novel about this device, emphasizing only its size and its durability. How does it work differently? What would make it work better? Safer? These were not explained.
We can’t be sure if the story relied largely or solely on a news release. We do know that it featured only one investigator at only one medical center.