Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Mammography: Why This Test Is Both Imperfect And Recommended

A well-written and balanced article on mammography from USA Today may help move the conversation about this screening test away from hype and a bit closer to reality. The title – “Mammogram is ‘terribly imperfect’, though recommended.”

For women in their 40s, mammograms reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by about 15%… But mammograms miss some cancers and raise false alarms about others, causing women to go through unnecessary follow-up tests… “We’re saying, ‘Mammography is a terribly imperfect test, but we’re recommending women get it,’” Brawley says. “The task force was saying, ‘Mammography is a terribly imperfect test, and Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

Unnecessary Tests And Treatments: Responsible Reporting Can Help

Just when I’ve lost hope that mainstream media will stop perpetuating the myth the more medicine equals better care, the Associated Press came up with this excellent piece. The article states, rightly, that “anywhere from one-fifth to nearly one-third of the tests and treatments we get are estimated to be unnecessary,” and that, “it may lead to dangerous side effects.”

Regular readers of this blog should be familiar with those concepts. I wrote recently that patients often reject evidence-based medicine. One reason is that there aren’t enough clinical guidelines available for patients to make an informed decision. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

Mainstream Media’s Sub-Par Health Coverage, Part 2

I recently wrote about an experience that I had with a reporter (Erica Mitrano) who interviewed me about energy healing at Calvert Memorial Hospital in southern Maryland. Erica was very friendly and inquisitive, and we had a nice conversation about the lack of scientific evidence supporting any energy healing modality. I thought it would be fun to post what we had discussed at SBM, and then wait to see what trickled down into the finished piece.

When the final article appeared I was very disappointed. Not only was I not quoted, but there was no skeptical counterpoint at all. The story read like an unquestioning endorsement of junk science, and I wondered if it was worth it to continue speaking to journalists to offer expert advice. It seemed to me that this experience was emblematic of all that’s wrong with health reporting these days. (Just ask Gary Schwitzer, who has recently given up on reviewing TV health stories in mainstream media since they are generally so inaccurate.) Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Mainstream Media Has Blogger Envy

headline_nurse2I never knew that newspapers use to hire nurses. This nurse is working in a big city at the news desk. I wonder if she had to have a journalism degree as well as a nursing license in order to write copy for a media outlet back when nurses wore their cap. There was a time when only journalists wrote the news. Now anyone with a computer, a video camera, and a website can out scoop CNN. Kim from Emergiblog told me that some bloggers and a member of the press got into a debate at BlogWorld09. I wasn’t surprised to hear this because mainstream media thinks that its the only legitimate source for news. Come on mainstream media, we both know what’s really going on here. You have blogger envy.

I’m sorry if I sound cranky, mainstream media, but I’m really tired of all your whining. I know you don’t think that citizen journalists check their facts and that we lack reliable news sources. Some of you have even said that our stories aren’t fair and balanced. Do you really want to go there, mainstream media? I’m talking to you Fox News and MSNBC. You’ve got your nerve to criticize anyone about their scruples. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

Lesley Stahl at BlogHer: False Information Is Giving Media (and Healthcare) A Bad Name

Photo Credit: wowowow.com

I attended a fantastic conference hosted by BlogHer yesterday. It’s a strange experience, entering a convention hall filled with 98% women. My ears were ringing with an unfamiliar “crowd noise” pitch – instead of the usual rumbling that one expects on entering a ballroom full of people, I noticed the same volume of noise, but a few octaves higher. I suppose it was the sound of estrogen.

The co-founders of BlogHer, Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page, and Jory Des Jardins are a media tour de force. Within a span of 3 years they have built the largest and arguably the most influential group of women bloggers on the Internet. BlogHer drives an astounding 4 billion page views per year and has 16 million unique visitors per year. 

The closing panel discussion was riveting. Lesley Stahl described the decline of television journalism, explaining that the line between pundits and journalists had been blurred beyond recognition.

Anyone on television is considered part of ‘mainstream media.’ There is no distinction made between opinion and fact. That’s why the media has lost trust in the eyes of Americans. Pundits don’t necessarily care about accuracy, and so traditional journalists (who spend a good deal of their time fact checking) are lumped in with them. I get tarred too.

Read more »

Latest Interviews

Caring For Winter Olympians In Sochi: An Interview With Team USA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gloria Beim

I am a huge fan of the winter Olympics partly because I grew up in Canada where most kids can ski and skate before they can run and partly because I used to participate in Downhill ski racing. Now that I m a rehab physician with a reconstructed knee I…

Read more »

How Do Hospital Executives Feel About Locum Tenens Agencies And Traveling Physicians?

I recently wrote about my experiences as a traveling physician and how to navigate locum tenens work. Today I want to talk about the client in this case hospital side of the equation. I ve had the chance to speak with several executives some were physicians themselves about the overall…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

Read more »

See all book reviews »