In praise of The BMJ, culture shock in medical school, and the fall of tonisllectomies: Holiday RightCare Weekly
July 3, 2014
The RightCare Weekly is a newsletter that helps you stay on top of important news in the ongoing quest to move the U.S. health care system toward delivering the right care to all patients. We’ll bring you the most important stories, news articles, and opinion pieces of the week, along with our interpretation of why they’re important for patients, doctors, and communities.
An update on the controversy over The BMJ‘s recent statin articles: We have posted an open letter defending The BMJ, signed by nearly 500 physicians, scientists, and others from 30 countries. The letter praises The BMJ for its consistent willingness to publish good science, even in the face of opposition from the pharmaceutical industry and other vested interests within medicine:
“This willingness to give voice to careful skeptics, and to insist on data transparency, has triggered the ire of industry and the recipients of its largesse on more than one occasion, leading to accusations and threats against The BMJ. […] We, as doctors, researchers, scientists, patient advocates, journalists and others from around the globe, want to stand with The BMJ in its effort to elevate scientific and honorable dialogue about the issues of the day.”
Harvard medical student Nathaniel Morris writes about the culture shock of starting his third year of medical school, the first year learning in a hospital. As he encounters the many cultural differences between medical school and practice, he notes that it’s particularly important to prepare students for the role of corporate influence in medicine:
“Every medical student should learn about the regulations that govern relationships between companies and health care providers. Classes should cover the approval processes for pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices. Medical schools need to facilitate discussion about conflicts of interest and other biases that affect clinical decision-making. And all physicians-in-training should graduate with a basic grasp of medical industry trends, as well as pertinent health care legislation.”
The lesson of a recent Politico discussion of waste and harm in health care: It’s an enormous problem, and it’s difficult for even highly informed patients to avoid waste in health care. The panel noted that hundreds of thousands of people are harmed by medical errors each year, and patients can’t be the only ones watching out for their safety. As Leah Binder of the Leapfrog group put it, “When you’re sitting in a hospital with a johnny on and your butt hanging out, you are not in the position to be a powerful chooser.”