The claim that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US has always rested on very shaky evidence; yet it’s become common wisdom that is cited as though everyone accepts it. But if estimates of 250,000 to 400,000 deaths due to medical error are way too high, what is the real number? A study published last month suggests that it’s almost certainly a lot lower and has been modestly decreasing since 1990.
MuTaTo, a technology hyped by an Israeli company, was all over the news a couple of days ago as the "complete cure for cancer." But is it? There are so many red flags in the news reports as to raise serious doubts, and the media's science communication in this case has been an epic fail.
Over the holidays, on the day after Christmas, Merck and Sanofi announced FDA approval of Vaxelis, a new hexavalent vaccine. It's great news for children. Unsurprisingly, antivaxers hate it.
In this installment of Conspiracy Theory Bingo, Kevin Barry blames the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 on an experimental vaccine. Yes, Mr. Barry lets the conspiracy mongering and antivaccine tropes flow as he "investigates" the influenza pandemic of 1918. Being the antivaccine crank that he is, he concludes that the influenza virus didn't cause the disease that killed over 50 million people a hundred years ago. No! It was—of course—an experimental meningitis vaccine that caused bacterial pneumonia in Army recruits. Let's just say that there are numerous holes in Barry's claims.
Cancer is an incredibly complicated disease. It's not just differences in genetics and biology that determine outcomes, either. Cancer disparities is the study of factors that result in differences in outcome. Not surprisingly, money matters.
From the viewpoint of hospital administration, patient satisfaction is increasingly the be-all and end-all of how doctors are evaluated, and it is assumed that patient satisfaction is highly correlated with quality of care. Unfortunately, patient satisfaction ≠ quality. A new study shows this very phenomenon in an outpatient setting.
The latest issue of the official journal of the European Atherosclerosis Society features a credulous article on traditional Chinese medicine. TCM is presented as a system of medicine whose use should "spread to Western societies." Sadly, the editors failed here, as the article consists of revisionist history, pseudoscience, and false equivalence.
Antivaxers claim that HPV vaccination causes primary ovarian insufficiency, also known as premature ovarian failure. A large epidemiological study has just shown them to be wrong. As usual.
In this edition of antivaccine Whac-A-Mole, Orac discusses a large study that fails to find a link between maternal Tdap vaccination and autism in the baby. No big surprise there. So, mothers, get your Tdap to protect your baby.
Science is the most effective means of determining medical treatments that work and whose benefits outweigh their risks. Those who promote pseudoscientific or prescientific medicine, however, frequently appeal to other ways of knowing, often ancient ways of knowing from other cultures, and pointing out deficiencies in SBM to justify promoting their treatments. Do their justifications hold water?