I recognized a glitch in my electronic medical record's decision support software when it prompted me to consider prostate and colorectal cancer screening in a 93-year-old man, who, though remarkably vigorous for his age, was unlikely to live for the additional 10 years needed to benefit from either test. Although deciding not to screen this patient was easy, determining when to stop cancer screening in older patients is often more ...

Read more...

Over the past few months, the federal government has mobilized against what is being called "the opioid crisis": a national epidemic of fatal overdoses that in 2014 claimed more than 14,000 lives, the most ever recorded. Since most of these opioids were originally prescribed by physicians to treat pain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently finalized a guideline containing recommendations for appropriate opioid ...

Read more...

One of the most notable things so many of last year’s biggest health stories have in common is that they envision an increased role for shared decision-making in primary care. Some patients will want to receive few aggressive interventions at the end of life; others will want more. Some women will be fine with waiting until age 45 or 50 to get their first mammogram; others will still want to start at ...

Read more...

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently called for a ban on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices, arguing that this type of advertising drives the nation's escalating drug bill by creating demand for new, expensive medications that are often no more effective than older ones. Since the first televised prescription drug ad aired in the U.S. in 1983, pharmaceutical companies have spent billions ...

Read more...

shutterstock_128042738 The Men Against Breast Cancer Fund and several cancer advocacy and physician organizations have posted a petition on Change.org asking Congress to place a two-year moratorium on finalizing the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's draft recommendations on screening for breast cancer to forestall the possibility that health insurers will stop covering screening mammograms for women younger than age 50. ...

Read more...

shutterstock_277427207 As I previously documented in a series of posts, the road to the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force's 2012 "don't do it" recommendation on PSA-based screening for prostate cancer was long, arduous, and full of political pitfalls. It led to me leaving my position at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Later, the USPSTF ...

Read more...

Over the years, applicants whom I've interviewed for positions in the first-year medical student class at Georgetown have often asked how our school's mission statement influences the educational experiences and clinical services we provide:

Guided by the Jesuit tradition of Cura Personalis, care of the whole person, Georgetown University School of Medicine will educate a diverse student body, in an integrated way, to become knowledgeable, ethical, skillful, and compassionate physicians and ...

Read more...

The buzzwords many use in medicine today are "personalized," "individualized," or "targeted." Rather than doctors prescribing tests or treatments that work in most people but might not work for you, proponents argue, we should tailor medical interventions to unique patient characteristics, such as genomic data. (The White House's Precision Medicine Initiative is an example of this kind of thinking.) Although I am skeptical that big data-driven genetic ...

Read more...

Several years ago, a few colleagues and I performed a systematic evidence review to help update the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's recommendations on screening for prostate cancer. One of our key questions asked about the harms associated with prostate cancer screening, other than the overdiagnosis (and resulting unnecessary treatment) of clinically insignificant tumors. Since routine prostate-specific antigen screening had been going on for nearly two decades by then, we expected to ...

Read more...

After more than a decade of titrating medications to low density lipoprotein cholesterol targets, family physicians who have transitioned to the 2013 American College of Cardiology / American Heart Association cholesterol treatment guideline now base treatment decisions on a patient's estimated 10-year risk for a cardiovascular event. Although it endorsed the ACC/AHA guideline last year, the American Academy of Family Physicians expressed concern that the guideline's new risk calculator had not been validated ...

Read more...

8 Pages