Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » 10 questions medical consumers need answered


The offers 10 criteria for what medical consumers need to know:

· What's the total cost?

· How often do benefits occur?

· How often do harms occur?

· How strong is the evidence?

· Is this condition exaggerated?

· Are there alternative options?

· Is this really a new approach?

· Is it available to me?

· Who's promoting this?

· Do they have a conflict of interest?

Too often, news stories fail to address any or all of these questions, HealthNews editor and publisher Gary Schwitzer told journalists assembled at a seminar Thursday at the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making.

One example he cited hit home: A doctor or hospital touts a new procedure and offers a patient as a success story. Every newspaper wants a face on such a story, but Schwitzer says we’re guilty of not going deep enough and providing context. Is this new procedure actually better or more efficient? What about those patients who aren’t success stories?

He asks: Who pays when the medical arms race introduces medical marketing wars in a community?

These are but a few of the tough questions raised at the seminar. I'm sitting in the Houston airport waiting for a delayed flight back to Victoria, but the session provided a lot to consider.