This story reported on a so-called "artificial pancreas," but gave no real evidence of what has been found in clinical trials so far. Indeed, similar research has been going on for 20 years, so the story should have established what is truly new, different and promising – backed up by evidience. Instead, it referred to this as one in a series of "medical miracles" without establishing quantifiable benefit.
The story was not improved by the anchor’s gushing proclamations, such as:
This research may, indeed, lead to an important development in the treatment of diabetes. But this story didn’t deliver any of the evidence to help viewers inform their understanding of the progress in reserach.
There was no discussion of the cost of this device, its implantation, or upkeep. The sensor technology is already available and is quite expensive.
Thin on evidence overall, the story certainly didn’t quanity any benefits of the "artificial pancreas."
No discussion of potential harms of this approach. Patients who wear these still need to do fingersticks periodically. The biggest risk for harm is that the sensor will be inaccurate and will "tell" the pump to administer the wrong and potentially harmful dose of insulin. The margin for error for this technology is very low – one reason why it has taken so long to get FDA approval and bring it to market. The story didn’t explain any of this.
There was absolutely no discussion of the evidence coming out of the trials of this device.
There was no overt disease-mongering about diabetes.
While the segment included interviews with two physiciains, both were investigators of the device. No independent perspective was used.
The story didn’t discuss any of the other methods for automated glucose analysis and pumps. It also didn’t mention that many patients with Type 1 diabetes have excellent control using current technology and have no need for this new and potentially riskier way to treat diabetes. The patients interviewed suggest that having Type 1 dictates all aspects of life and happiness. This is a very dramatic over-statement. Many people with type 1 diabetes have worked hard taking care of their diabetes in their daily lives and they are not "ruled" by the condition.
Beyond the mention that the device was being tested at The City of Hope Hospital in Los Angeles, there was no mention of availability or of other trial sites. The story said, "The device, if approved, could be available in the next five to ten years." What is that based on? Such broad and distant projections are almost useless. If not approved, it won’t be available.
Such devices have been investigated for at least 20 years. This story did not establish what might be truly novel about this approach.
We can’t be sure if the story relied soley or largely on a news release.