Tag Archives: guidelines

Could financial conflicts be influencing cancer care guidelines?

Photo: Hloom Templates via Flickr

Physicians in all fields of medicine rely on guidelines developed by professional medical organizations to inform how they care for patients. These guidelines, whether defining what counts as hypertension or laying out how best to care for pregnant women, constitute the standard of care in that particular field. To call them influential is a huge understatement.

Since most of these guidelines discuss treatments, it’s reasonable to pay attention to whether those writing the guidelines might have a bias for or against a particular treatment that’s not based on evidence. It’s impossible to be certain of this for all guideline authors, but ensuring they aren’t receiving big checks from industry is one way to guard against bias. Continue reading

Guidelines for journalists, public health officials strive to avoid Contagion-like situation

In an effort to prevent some of the fictional events of the movie “Contagion” from happening, health officials and AHCJ leaders collaborated to establish guidelines on what information should be released in a public health crisis.

Actually, the group began work on the project last year – long before “Contagion” hit the theaters – but the recent movie demonstrates the dangers of misinformation during a crisis, as described in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed.

” … one character observes that the falsehoods of a self-serving blogger are as dangerous as the virus itself. Public-health officials strive to release the right information at the right time, but they struggle to counter the irresponsible blogger.”

Felice J. Freyer, an AHCJ board member, teamed up with Paul E. Jarris, M.D., executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and Robert M. Pestronk, executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, to write an op-ed about the guidelines and why they were necessary.

Can Americans learn that less may be better?

AHCJ member Laura Newman, the About.com guide to urology, writes about whether consumers will embrace the message that “‘less is more,’ when science confirms it.” In this case, Newman focuses on the American Urological Association’s guideline for kidney cancer treatment, released in April, that called for saving the kidney whenever possible.

Taken in the context of the conflicts in the past few weeks over recommendations for less PSA screening, less breast cancer screening, and less cervical cancer screening, I commend the AUA and other physician organizations for reviewing the balance of benefits and harms in treating early-stage kidney cancer more aggressively.