Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Reporter's ABM helps shoot down medical armament in Utah

In this world of medical arms races, it is refreshing to find a reporter who isn't taken in by the latest hype.  It is brave when the story is about a hospital or doctors in one's own town.  It is also refreshing to see a reporter who doesn't just parrot the press release, but -- like the journalists of a previous era -- finds alternate viewpoints.

Kirsten Stewart at the Salt Lake Tribune wrote this piece.  Excerpts:

An independent group of radiation oncologists affiliated with hospitals throughout Utah is hyping the arrival of “the world’s most advanced radiation therapy.”

But it isn’t new technology, nor is it new to the Salt Lake area. And whether the TomoTherapy brand is “a step above” other systems, as described by Gamma West’s founder and chief medical officer, John K. Hayes, is open for debate.

The trick for patients, of course, is finding which treatments, if any, are right for them — a decision complicated by the soaring cost of cancer care in America.

The rise of high-tech medicine has coincided with a decrease in death rates from cancer. But scientists differ on whether it’s directly responsible for prolonging lives.

“We are very medicalized in this country. We think that every predicament in life is a medical predicament and there’s some miraculous solution,” said Nortin Hadler, an immunologist and microbiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and author of Rethinking Aging and Worried Sick.

[A]bout 80 percent of our increase in longevity is tied to our socioeconomic status — “something about the way we live together, whether that’s job security or education levels,” Hadler said.

Biomedical advances, on the other hand, are responsible for about 20 percent, which Hadler says he’s proud of. But he rails against the overtreatment of patients by an industry that he says has “lost its moral compass.”
Thanks to HealthNewsReview.org for the heads up on this story.  As noted by Gary Schwitzer, "Hype. Medicalization. Costs. Informed patient decision-making. She fit a lot into this story and deserves a shout-out for the effort."

1 comment:

Theresa said...

It is time for those of us in the healthcare industry to start asking these questions of ourselves. Newer, faster, and more expensive does not necessarily equate to better care or improved outcomes. America is grossly outspending most other industrialized nations on heathcare yet we are not living longer or healthier lives.