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“Clinically Proven?” There’s No Such Thing

I heard yet another commercial on the radio this morning for some menopausal cure-all that was “clinically proven” to reduce hot flashes, improve sleep, increase energy, help you lose weight, and probably cure bad breath to boot. Anyone who calls in the next ten minutes gets a month’s supply for free. “Hurry.” Don’t.

At least they finally stopped running the one for the colon cleansing product that helped remove the “five to ten pounds of waste some experts* believe are spackled along the inside of the large intestine.” (*Emphasis mine. “Some experts” also believe the moon landing was a hoax, the Holocaust never happened, and homeopathy is effective medicine.) Somehow this colon cleansing stuff helps you preferentially lose belly fat. Not really sure what belly fat has to do with five to ten pounds of stuff spackled inside your intestine, but they’re not selling logic. “Call right now for your free sample.” Or not.

Then there was the pediatrician hawking the natural, safe, clinically-proven effective sinus cure that sounded suspiciously like saline spray. “Hurry and call right now.” Don’t bother.

Words are my friends, and I hate to see people abuse them.

Clinical” is an adjective referring to “that which can be observed in or involves patients.” It’s the hands-on part of medicine that can’t be replicated in a lab or taught from a book. There is virtually no such thing as “proof” in the scientific sense. Laboratory and patient-based medical research can strongly suggest things. Scientific evidence can accumulate supporting things, and the more the better, of course. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

The Economics Of Medical Jargon

Many of the peculiar terms and phrases we’ve learned in medicine have found a new use in cyberspace, as titles of websites (consider 10 out of 10, The Central Line, or this blog — and that’s just emergency medicine sites).

But that’s the virtual world — what about the real world? I [recently] saw a couple of products that make me think medical parlance could sell physical products. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Blogborygmi*

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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