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Stroke study offers hope for Bloomingdale man

Rating

2 Star

Stroke study offers hope for Bloomingdale man

Our Review Summary

Was this a serious piece of journalism or a spoof of a medical story out of The Onion? The excessive focus on a “Bloomingdale Man’s” experience reminded us of the classic “Area Man” stories from the news satire site.
We would have overlooked the resemblance had this story provided any useful information on the costs, benefits, harms, or evidence supporting the procedure discussed – carotid artery stenting for prevention of strokes. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

 

Why This Matters

Tempting though it may be to focus on patient anecdotes to attract interest in a story, individual experiences are no substitute for a thorough discussion of the evidence. 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No mention of costs in this story.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

We learn quite a bit about the benefits that Mr. Carbine experienced from his operation, but what happened to the 2499 other participants in the study? This story is inexplicably silent on that question.   

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Both of the procedures discussed carry a substantial risk of harm. But none was mentioned in this story.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story tells us that stenting was compared to open surgery in a clinical trial involving 2500 patients. But the story left out some important details, such as what outcomes the researchers reported. The only outcome that seemed to matter in this story was that of Thomas Carbine, the retired "Bloomingdale man" in the headline. What happened to the other 2,499 people?

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There was no overt disease-mongering in this study.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The only expert source in this story was a principal investigator in the study being discussed. No independent source was quoted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story says that the study being discussed included patients with no symptoms of an imminent stroke. There is debate in the medical literature as to whether these patients are appropriate candidates for any surgical intervention. However, the study didn’t raise this issue.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story states that one of the surgeons quoted in the story has been inserting carotid artery stents since 1995. Since this is the newer of the two techniques discussed, readers can reasonably assume that both procedures are widely available.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

It is clear that neither of the procedures discussed in this story is new.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

We can’t be sure of the extent to which the story may have been influenced by a news release.

Total Score: 3 of 9 Satisfactory

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