Another HealthDay, another story straight from a news release. Which might not be so bad if it only put things in a balanced perspective. Which this one doesn’t, as they often don’t.
We also didn’t hear anything about why we don’t jump to conclusions after studies in just 27 people. And why was the pig research thrown in? To make the human findings seem more robust?!?
No discussion of costs – a recurring and significant oversight.
The claims of "100% accuracy" and that "The investigators found that after just one laser treatment, misfiring ceased in 84 percent of the treated veins, and 90 percent remained inactive three months after treatment" aren’t put into any meaningful context about what difference this made in patient outcomes. Of course, what can you possibly say about outcomes after just three months? Which is exactly the point of raising this issue at all.
No discussion of harms.
No discussion of the limitations of drawing conclusions from a study of just 27 people. No explanation of whether destroying misfiring cells with "100% accuracy" actually makes a difference in people’s lives and outcomes.
No overt disease mongering. However, to say that "about 2.2 million Americans currently live with an irregular heartbeat condition, known as atrial fibrillation" in the same breath as describing a study of just 27 people may imply that this very small study has immediate ramifications for all 2.2 million. And it does not. Barely satisfactory.
There’s actually no interview – only a rehash of what was published in a journal, restated from a news release. No independent source cited.
Again, the comparison of the "new approach" with existing approaches is superficial and unhelpful. And there was no comparison of performance or outcomes data. Terribly incomplete on this point.
It is never made clear whether the device and approach are still experimental or already in clinical use.
The word "new" was used five times in the short story. Yet the real novelty of this approach is only scantily and insufficiently described – especially if the implication is that this has relevance for 2.2 million Americans.
The story admits it’s based on an American Heart Association news release. There’s no sign of any independent reporting or vetting.