Tag Archives: medical evidence

Poignant story leaves out the evidence

A heartwarming story on CBS News about a child’s medical treatment was in fact “incomplete and imbalanced,” according to Gary Schwitzer, on his HealthNewsReview blog.

Schwitzer, as regular Covering Health readers know, is an associate professor in the University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communication and publisher of HealthNewsReview.org.

Among the holes he sees in the story, reported by Sanjay Gupta:

  • No mention of the costs of treatment
  • How the child’s placement on a transplant list was affected
  • Why the device used is not FDA-approved
  • A lack of evidence that the device and treatment saved her life

Be sure to read what Schwitzer did find out about the medical device that was used. As he says, “Stories about new medical technologies – even those with such an emotional personal anecdote – should deal with evidence, not hyperbole about one anecdote.”

Oprah’s health advice needs a shot in the arm

In Vital Signs at Salon.com, Rahul K. Parikh, M.D., writes about the lack of balance and medical evidence in the health advice offered on Oprah Winfrey’s television show.

Parikh points to recent guest Suzanne Somers, advocating bioidentical hormones. He says Winfrey failed to ask any tough questions about Somer’s history of breast cancer, her hysterectomy or the validity of her sources.

On a related – and much lighter – note, Elsevier Global Medical News has uncovered a song about McCarthy’s anti-vaccine stance.

Winfrey’s health advice on other issues has also raised concern, according to Parikh. Winfrey has a development deal with actress Jenny McCarthy, who has “been leading an ideological, unscientific crusade against childhood vaccines.” Winfrey also has promoted cosmetic procedures without discussing potential problems and has done a show on which an “expert” said thyroid problems are “the result of a woman’s inability to assert herself.”

It’s certainly not news that Winfrey has strayed far from her journalistic roots but Parikh’s point that, given her influence, she should offer more solid evidence and balance, is well taken. It’s also a good reminder of the value of journalists who stick to the evidence and continue asking the tough questions.