This is another study – of which there have been several notable ones recently – that shows that newer isn’t always better in health care.
As Yale’s Harlan Krumholz said in a key quote in this story, "What’s remarkable is that this procedure got so popular and adopted into widespread use before a study like this was conducted to show us what its value may be."
Overall, the AP story did a good job. It could have been improved by:
The story refers to kidney angioplasty as a "pricey procedure" but offers no ballpark estimates of what that means.
While the story included the important statement from one researcher that "There really was no benefit," the story nonethless never gave any data on how "benefit" was measured. Or what the absolute data were for either treatment group. So how well do medications work? What were the rates of death, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, etc.? The story didn’t tell us.
The story provided absolute numbers of harms in the angioplasty group within the first month after treatment.
The story provided an adequate explanation of the nature of the evidence.
The story provides National Kidney Foundation estimates of the scope of the problem.
3 different independent sources were quoted.
The story was about different treatment options for blocked kidney arteries. And it did an adequate job presenting the data comparing the options.
The story gives an estimate of how widely kidney angioplasty is used.
A kidney foundation spokesman said this report was "the first hint" that medication may produce equal results to angioplasty.
Given that several sources were interviewed, it is unlikely that the story relied solely or largely on a news release.