Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Article] BBC News – Do doctors understand test results?

BBC News – Do doctors understand test results?.

From the 6 July 2014 article

A confused doctor

Are doctors confused by statistics? A new book by one prominent statistician says they are – and that this makes it hard for patients to make informed decisions about treatment.

In 1992, shortly after Gerd Gigerenzer moved to Chicago, he took his six-year-old daughter to the dentist. She didn’t have toothache, but he thought it was about time she got acquainted with the routine of sitting in the big reclining chair and being prodded with pointy objects.

The clinic had other ideas. “The dentist wanted to X-ray her,” Gigerenzer recalls. “I told first the nurse, and then him, that she had no pains and I wanted him to do a clinical examination, not an X-ray.”

These words went down as well as a gulp of dental mouthwash. The dentist argued that he might miss something if he didn’t perform an X-ray, and Gigerenzer would be responsible.

But the advice of the US Food and Drug Administration is not to use X-rays to screen for problems before a regular examination. Gigerenzer asked him: “Could you please tell me what’s known about the potential harms of dental X-rays for children? For instance, thyroid and brain cancer? Or give me a reference so I can check the evidence?”

GigerenzerGerd Gigerenzer

The dentist stared at him blankly……

 

July 8, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , | 1 Comment

Things Physicians and Patients Should Question – With Lists From Choosing Wisely

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 5.27.47 AMThings Physicians and Patients Should Question | Choosing Wisely.

Ever wonder if a medical test or procedure was right for you?
Maybe you read about it, hear it on the news, or came across it on the Internet.

Here’s Web site that just might help in discussions with your health care provider.

From the Choosing Wisely site

Choosing Wisely® aims to promote conversations between physicians and patients by helping patients choose care that is:

  • Supported by evidence
  • Not duplicative of other tests or procedures already received
  • Free from harm
  • Truly necessary

In response to this challenge, national organizations representing medical specialists have been asked to “choose wisely” by identifying five tests or procedures commonly used in their field, whose necessity should be questioned and discussed. The resulting lists of “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question” will spark discussion about the need—or lack thereof—for many frequently ordered tests or treatments.

This concept was originally conceived and piloted by the National Physicians Alliance, which, through an ABIM Foundation Putting the Charter into Practice grant, created a set of three lists of specific steps physicians in internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics could take in their practices to promote the more effective use of health care resources. These lists were first published inArchives of Internal Medicine. 

Recognizing that patients need better information about what care they truly need to have these conversations with their physicians, Consumer Reports is developing patient-friendly materials and is working with consumer groups to disseminate them widely.

Choosing Wisely recommendations should not be used to establish coverage decisions or exclusions. Rather, they are meant to spur conversation about what is appropriate and necessary treatment. As each patient situation is unique, physicians and patients should use the recommendations as guidelines to determine an appropriate treatment plan together.

From the List at Choosing Wisely, by the ABIM Foundation

United States specialty societies representing more than 500,000 physicians developed lists of Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question in recognition of the importance of physician and patient conversations to improve care and eliminate unnecessary tests and procedures.

These lists represent specific, evidence-based recommendations physicians and patients should discuss to help make wise decisions about the most appropriate care based on their individual situation. Each list provides information on when tests and procedures may be appropriate, as well as the methodology used in its creation.

Choosing Wisely recommendations should not be used to establish coverage decisions or exclusions. Rather, they are meant to spur conversation about what is appropriate and necessary treatment. As each patient situation is unique, physicians and patients should use the recommendations as guidelines to determine an appropriate treatment plan together.

In collaboration with the societies, Consumer Reports has created resources for consumers and physicians to engage in these important conversations about the overuse of medical tests and procedures that provide little benefit and in some cases harm.

Specialty Society Lists of Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question (for physicians):

Patient-Friendly Resources from Specialty Societies and Consumer Reports:

and more!

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February 1, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Internet Use Associated with Better Decision Making in Older Adults

From the 25 November 2013 posting at HealthCetera – CHMP’s Blog
[Center for Health Media & Policy at Hunter College (CHMP): advancing public conversations about health & health policy]

Older adults face many important decisions about their health and financial well-being. Whether it’s making retirement savings last longer or authorizing a health proxy, the ability to make good choices has consequences for a senior’s quality of life, aging in place, and end of life care. According to a new study from Rush University, presented yesterday at the Gerontological Society of America Conference in New Orleans, Internet use is associated with better health and financial decision-making among older adults.

Senior on laptop“The Internet has become the primary corridor for finding information and assisting in decision-making on finances and healthcare,” said Bryan James, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago and lead author of the study. “The Internet is becoming what we call ‘proto-normative,’ meaning you have to have some ability or savvy to function online these days.”

Recent research from Pew’s Internet and American Life Project show that slightly more than half (53%) of all seniors are now online. However, James said there remains a significant portion of older adults who use the Internet infrequently, or not at all. This may have important implications for quality of life and independence, including the ability to age at home.

James pointed to the digital divide between older and younger people. In addition to the general anxiety expressed by older adults express about computers and the Internet,  there are also certain parts of the aging process that may may pose obstacles to Internet use, such as cognitive decline, as well as decline in hearing, vision, and motor skills.

……

Read the entire post here

Related Resources

Evaluating Health Information (from Health Resources for All, edited  by Janice Flahiff)

Anyone can publish information on the Internet. So it is up to the searcher to decide if the information found through search engines (as Google) is reliable or not. Search engines find Web sites but do not evaluate them for content. Sponsored links may or may not contain good information.
A few universities and government agencies have published great guides on evaluating information.
Here are a few
  • The Penn State Medical Center Library has a great guide to evaluate health information on the Internet.The tips include
    • Remember, anyone can publish information on the internet!
    • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
      If the Web site is primarily about selling a product, the information may be worth checking from another source.
    • Look for who is publishing the information and their education, credentials, and if they are connected with a trusted coporation, university or agency.
    • Check to see how current the information is.
    • Check for accuracy. Does the Web site refer to specific studies or organizations?

The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Web page entitled Evaluating Medical Research Findings and Clinical Trials
Topics include

  • General Guidelines for Evaluating Medical Research
  • Getting Information from the Web
  • Talking with your Health Care Provider


Additional Resources

 
And a Rumor Control site of Note (in addition to Quackwatch)
 

National Council Against Health Fraud

National Council Against Health Fraud is a nonprofit health agency focusing on health misinformation, fraud, and quackery as public health problems. Links to publications, position papers and more.

November 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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