The march for science and more stories on why bad science makes bad medicine

April 27, 2017

In order to bring you more of the news you want to read, Right Care Weekly presents articles related to moving our healthcare system toward the right care for all patients.

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This past Saturday, tens of thousands of scientists, doctors, activists, and citizens marched in cities across the US, braving the rain and cold to defend scientific enterprise. Among them were ten groups of Right Care Alliance members, carrying signs with slogans like “Corporate $cience is Bad Medicine” and “Science Saves Lives.” Jane Muir, science march captain in Charlottesville, VA, and her teammates used the event to start conversations about right care. “So many attendees are hoping that we can come together as a group to find solutions regarding health care practices in the US,” said Muir. Check out the photos on Twitter, and stay tuned for more on the Science March in The Messenger tomorrow.

In a stunning display of peer review fraud, the journal Tumor Biology is retracting more than a hundred articles whose authors faked the peer review process. These authors gave the journal editors sham email addresses, which led to a third party who would submit a favorable review. How were the scammers found out? The editors became suspicious when many of the “peer reviewers” responded on time, a rarity in the academic world. This incident is yet another reason the peer review process needs to be more transparent.

What do knee replacements, meniscus repair, and vertebroplasty have in common? These orthopedic procedures are performed frequently, despite evidence showing that they are overused or ineffective. STAT highlights this “evidence gap” in orthopedics in an article this week featuring Right Care Alliance member Jim Rickert, MD. Rickert points out that many orthopedic surgeries are subject to ‘indication creep,’ where a surgery with proven benefit in a small group of patients is gradually used on a wider and wider group of people, resulting in overuse. For example, clavicle fracture repair is not proven to work for adolescents, but “the potential market is so large, there’s this push to extend the indication to kids,” said Rickert, quoted in the article.

Legislators have introduced yet another round of federal right-to-try laws, which allow terminally ill patients to access unapproved experimental treatments. Supporters, which include patient groups and drug companies, have framed these laws as giving dying patients a last chance at life, but in reality, unapproved treatments often put patients at risk for complications, remove their ability to sue in the case of malpractice or negligence, and stick patients and their families with the price of treatment, since insurance won’t cover most experimental treatments. As David Gorski, MD, PhD, FACS writes in Science-based Medicine, “Right-to-try laws are a solution looking for a problem. The real purpose of these laws is not to help patients, but to neuter the FDA’s ability to regulate certain drugs.”

In our latest Conference Preview, Patty Gabow, MD, MACP offers some career advice for clinicians and aspiring administrators — take a job you really don’t want. This advice is based on her own experience making the shift from Chief of Medicine to CEO at Denver Health. Although Gabow had little previous training in administration, she knew she could improve Denver Health by approaching administrative problems from a doctor’s point of view. “A lot of administrators treat the symptoms without knowing the root causes, but to solve the problem you have to diagnose the disease,” Gabow said. Register for the Lown Conference to hear her keynote address: despite her former position, she’s skeptical about the role of hospitals in providing community-based care.


Right Care Weekly will be off next week in preparation for the Lown Institute Conference. Hope to see you all in Boston!





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Right Care Weekly is made possible through the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.