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Latest Posts

Declining Cancer Screening: Why It’s The Right Decision For Some

One wonders how many men have their blood tested for PSA levels looking for prostate cancer without being asked if that’s what they really wanted.

The Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making (which supports my web publishing efforts) has now posted on its YouTube page a video clip with a man who has some regrets about his prostate cancer screening and treatment experience. It’s the same man featured in the New York Times Sunday magazine piece, “Can Cancer Ever Be Ignored?

Relevant excerpt from the NYT piece:

“Tim Glynn, a self-described country lawyer from Setauket, N.Y., was 47 in 1997 when he went to his primary-care doctor, troubled by a vague feeling of being down. After his physical exam, Glynn was sent to have his blood drawn. Along with thyroid and cholesterol levels, the doctor ordered a P.S.A. test. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Cardiac Stents Alone Don’t Work

I have a friend who had a blocked cardiac artery. A couple of years ago he had angioplasty on it, and his doctor inserted stents. The stents got rid of his chest pain and other symptoms, but didn’t do anything to get at the underlying cause of the blockage, which had to do with an unhappy combination of genetics and a –- perfectly admirable –- taste for rich, fatty foods. Like steak. (More on that in a moment.)

Before having the procedure, his doctors spent a lot of time with him explaining what the surgery would and wouldn’t do. In particular, the doctors explained that the stents would do their job, but he had to do his. He needed to eat better, exercise more, and take his medications. He’s followed most of that advice, and is doing well.

Unfortunately, his experience is not typical. A recently published study found that more than 80 percent of patients who had gotten angioplasty and stents thought they were alone a cure for their problems.

These patients are wrong. So how can it be that they are coming to this strange conclusion? According to some, it’s the doctors’ fault. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Spinal Fusion Device: “From Revolutionary Advance To Public Health Alert”

There are many stories journalists could report on about conflicts of interest and questions about evidence in the treatment of low back pain, perhaps especially with spinal fusion. We talked about many of these with journalists from the American Society of News Editors in a workshop at the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making in Boston in May.

John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel hammers one of these issues, looking at how Medtronic’s Infuse product “went from revolutionary advance to public health alert.”

Here’s his story on MedPageToday: “Spinal Fusion Device: A Bone of Contention for FDA.” 

His entire series entitled “Side Effects: Money, Medicine and Patients” is indexed on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel website. The image below is from the Journal-Sentinel’s online story:


*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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