Spot the word "first" in a headline, and you might assume a major milestone has been reached. Think first person on the moon, first woman on the Supreme Court. But in health care news, things heralded for being first might not amount to a clear advance for patients. Take two recent FDA announcements that made a splash despite weak evidence that they really help people. In March the FDA announced its approval of a “first treatment ...

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Much media attention has been paid to the new guidelines from American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Based on new clinical trial data, ACC/AHA no longer recommends that healthy adults without cardiovascular disease -- emphasis on without cardiovascular disease -- take daily aspirin for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. This change, while significant, is highly nuanced and dependent on ...

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The April 18, 2019 CNN headline was a prime example of clickbait: "Feds charge doctors in 8 states in opioid bust, including ‘Rock Doc’ accused of trading pills for sex." The only problem with this headline? Of the 60 individuals charged, half were not physicians. More importantly, Jeffrey Young, the so-called “Rock Doc” who prescribed nearly 1.5 million pills of opioids and benzos often in exchange for ...

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This notice appeared on a general surgery news website in early February. I don’t know who has been long anticipating this, but I’m pretty sure it’s not people on medical Twitter. My informal, nonscientific Twitter poll garnered 707 votes with 87 percent of those responding saying they would not allow their residents to participate in a reality television show. Many of those who ...

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When I started on my path in medicine, I was an optimistic, wide-eyed, enthusiastic medical student. I had fond memories of rounding on Sundays with my vascular surgeon father as a child, and I remembered the appreciation his patients would express when we would run into them at our local grocery store. My dad never complained about taking call or not having enough time to spend with his patients. The ...

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As all researchers know, science is a grinding parade of failure and dead ends. But as we’ve often written, news release writers sometimes seem hell-bent on making the public believe otherwise. Like expert makeup artists, they can add sparkle to lackluster findings, mask blemishes in study designs, and smooth over unimpressive data. One thing I won’t miss much about my job at HealthNewsReview.org is reading the daily churn of PR ...

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Last summer, I published a post called "Alternative Medicine is Kicking Our Ass." In it, I focused on one particularly slick alt-thyroid site that has done a masterful job of sowing doubt regarding the advice mainstream physicians give to our patients about the thyroid. Not only that, but the site has called into question our competency as doctors, citing "evidence" that supposedly proves (it doesn't) we ...

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A rapidly escalating measles outbreak near Portland, OR has led local health officials to declare a public health emergency, with 44 confirmed cases, almost all in unimmunized children. Meanwhile, New York and New Jersey have been facing a similar crisis over the past few months, with over 200 confirmed cases of the measles tearing through the ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in the area, where individuals ...

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Are you a media whore? Or do you worry you might be labeled one by your colleagues – if not to your face, then behind your back? In the process of delivering hundreds of media engagement workshops, I’ve heard dozens and dozens of you express this fear, using precisely this language. You've made it clear that the mild put-down of "microphone hog" I was familiar with has now been replaced with ...

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An opinion piece published in JAMA suggests the latter: "Protecting the Value of Medical Science in the Age of Social Media and 'Fake News'" The authors argue social media poses a threat to science in several ways:

  • Unfettered publication of unvetted information by sources of unknown reliability.
  • An emerging tactic of decrying disagreeable content as “fake” or part of a “conspiracy.”
  • Opponents of evidence-based research who perpetuate ...

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