It’s a rare story that counters all of the claims made for robotic surgery. This story scores so well because, one by one, it addresses our criteria in a way we expect stories about new technologies to analyze claims.
This was a story that had consumers in mind – and the take-home should be clear to any reader as a result.
Robotic surgery has increasingly gained acceptance recently despite the fact that the true benefits of the device may be minimal. Given the expense of the device and the per case costs of the disposables, a story that looks hard at the existing evidence is more than welcome.
Good analysis of cost impact of use of robotics – for patients and health care institutions.
The story raises many questions about claims of benefits from robotic surgery. Examples:
The story didn’t quantify harms – something it could have attempted to do – but we’ll give it a satisfactory score nonetheless because it raised an issue many stories don’t – the loss of sensory feedback upon which surgeons rely.
It also cited one study showing that people who had an adrenal gland removed by robot were more likely to have complications.
The story allowed the manufacturer to have its say and then countered each claim with a Johns Hopkins surgeon’s evaluation of the evidence.
No disease mongering here.
Several independent sources were quoted.
The story included comparisons between robotic surgery and other laparascopic and traditional surgery throughout.
The growing use of robotic surgery – despite questions about the evidence – is the focus of the story.
The story stated “Despite the DaVinci’s popularity, its surgical talents may not surpass those of flesh-and-blood physicians.”
It’s clear the story didn’t rely on a news release.