This story on a new ultrasound imaging device stands out from other zero-star stories we’ve reviewed. This piece doesn’t merely fail to be accurate, fair and balanced. It fails to even try.
Looking over the story, it’s not clear the reporter even asked a question. It is not mean or hyperbolic to say that most press releases are more informative.
The story says the cost for ultrasound breast imaging with the SOFIA machine ranges from $250 to $300. This comes from a self-interested source and requires independent verification.
The cost should have been compared to the cost of a conventional mammogram or other enhanced breast imaging techniques.
The story says the cost "should be covered by most insurance providers"–an assertion that again, due to the self-interest of the source, needs independent verification.
The story makes no attempt to quantify the benefits of the device, or even to describe the claims in much detail.
The potential harms of any new screening device include false positives and false negatives. Costs that outweigh benefits compared to other techniques are also a risk.
The story fails to mention this.
No evidence whatsoever is provided to defend the company’s assertion that the ultrasound technique is "more effective and overall more efficient" than mammograms.
By stating that the Sofia ultrasound device is "more effective" and intended to "battle the uncertainty inherent" in mammograms, the story implies women not screened with this device may have undetected breast cancer.
This is of course nonsense–or, to be as generous as possible, uNPRoven.
The reporter talks to one source, a man whose job is to sell more of the machines in question.
The story fails to discuss in a meaningful way the options of mammograms, conventional ultrasound and other imaging techniques used to detect breast cancer.
While the article says the SOFIA ultrasound machine isn’t available in Oklahoma [where the newspaper is based], it asserts that "there are clinics in the Dallas area that have the machines."
This information is useless. Readers aren’t told how many machines there are in the Dallas area, which facilities have them or whether they are currently used for diagnosis.
Worse, the unchallenged generality of the statement suggests the reporter didn’t even ask the source–who is too self-interested in any event to trust without verification anyway.
The lede of the story implies that the use of ultrasound in breast imaging and diagnosis is novel. It is not.
If the SOFIA product is unique, it’s not even because it gathers images from all around the breast. It’s because it reassembles images in what may be a novel way.
The reporter does not seem to understand this.
There is no press release linked to this story, though the company may wish to use it as one.