An epidemic of incidentalomas, “hopeium” in prostate cancer ads, and David Martin on his “Aha!” moment
November 13, 2014
In order to bring you more of the news you want to read, RightCare Weekly summarizes and interprets three important articles and provides headlines linking to the many other articles and editorials you’ll find interesting. As always, RightCare Weekly presents articles related to moving our healthcare system toward the right care for all patients.
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A new paper in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine documents the stunning growth in rates of thyroid cancer, driven not by an actual increase in the prevalence of disease, but by widespread overdiagnosis of thyroid cancer. Thyroid tumors are often classic “incidentalomas,” abnormalities detected during an unrelated test. Such incidentalomas, especially thyroid cancer, would not cause symptoms if left untreated, but they routinely provoke follow-up testing and treatment. The treatment for thyroid incidentalomas can cause serious harm, including damage to nearby glands and vocal chord paralysis. Gil Welch, MD, writes in a related New York Times op-ed that the pattern of overdiagnosis should make us skeptical of the infinite virtues of early detection, and that instead we ought to pay more attention to “epidemics of medical care.”
Every hospital seems to be doing it. Advertising. According to a New York Times piece from last year, it is estimated that hospitals with more than 400 beds spent $2.18 million on advertising in 2010. Not only are these costs deemed wasteful, but the ads can be dangerous when outlandish, baseless claims are made to lure new patients. In a Forbes piece this week, Benjamin Davies, MD, singles out prostate cancer services advertising that appeared in two well-regarded New York publications. Davies generally has no issue with ads that are true, evidence-based and “horribly honest.” But he blasts claims from two ads: 1) the CyberKnife is regarded as “the biggest advance in prostate cancer treatment in a decade,” and 2) that organic produce contributes to good cancer care. Stay tuned for Part 2 of Prostate Cancer Advertising: Lies and the Damn Lies.
In his blog post, Lown Institute Vice President David Martin, describes finding his ‘aha’ moment after working in healthcare for more than 15 years. It was when he arrived at Lown and realized that so much of the healthcare that is delivered to patients has little or no benefit, and is based not on science, but profit. Potential solutions for curbing this abuse of trust will be front and center for discussion by health policy leaders, clinicians and patient advocates during the upcoming third annual conference, scheduled for March 8-11 in San Diego.
We can’t wait to hear Dr. Diane Meier’s keynote at our annual meeting! You don’t want to miss Road to RightCare: Engage, Organize, Transform, March 8-11 in San Diego. There’s still time to take advantage of early bird registration (ends December 1). Here’s a video of Dr. Meier talking about the importance of communication skills and preparation when having difficult conversations with patients. For another preview of the conference, check out our video of highlights from last year.