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Our favorite blogs from 2018

Out of all the blogs we write here at the Lown Institute (and we write quite a few), some stand out as being the most unique topics, the most fun to write, and the most popular to share. Here were our favorite blogs of the year — be sure to check them out!

Why do doctors keep performing ineffective procedures?

The ORBITA trial was a big topic in the cardiovascular community this year, because it disproved a popular piece of conventional wisdom in the specialty about the value of stents for stable angina. But the ORBITA trial also brings up an issue endemic to the medical community more broadly — how difficult it is to change clinician practice patterns, even when research shows that a certain procedure is ineffective. One reason could be that we’re incentivizing the wrong performance measures. Read Shannon Brownlee’s take on ORBITA for more!

Can there be too much cancer screening?

One of the most prevalent misconceptions about cancer is that finding cancer early is the always the key to survival. Unfortunately, as we’ve pointed out on the blog, regular screening actually has more harms than benefits for many cancers (especially for certain age groups). This year, we responded to the American Cancer Society’s decision to lower the age of colorectal cancer screening and featured radiologist Jill Wruble‘s talk about the “Statistical Magic Tricks” that make us overestimate the value of cancer screening.

Flossing, inductions, and moles — Oh My! 

Enough about overuse in cancer care and cardiology — What about the less-discussed specialties like obstetrics, dermatology, pediatrics, and dentistry? This year, we explored how private takeovers of dermatology clinics are creating more overuse, how to interpret a highly-anticipated study of induction for low-risk births, and debunking the 48-hour rule in pediatric care. And what is Flossgate?? You’ll have to read to find out…

When diagnosis becomes dangerous

Some of our most popular blogs of the year were about problems in diagnosis  — how we categorize them, how we measure them, and how we can fix them. Out of these, our favorite was this exploration of what makes medicalization problematic, and how we can distinguish between new disease labels that can be helpful and new diagnoses that are harmful.

Thanks to everyone for reading, sharing, and commenting! If you’re not subscribed to our Weekly newsletter, you can subscribe now and get all of our blogs delivered in a weekly email for free! 

We’ll be back in the new year with more blogs, including the 2018 Shkreli Awards. Until then, Happy Holidays!