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Hospitals front for “medical-industrial complex”

Yet more evidence surfaces about how and why the U.S. spends much more per capita on health care than other developed nations yet gets such mediocre results. Like its counterparts in the military-industrial complex, the medical-industrial complex puts profits first and relies on trusted “front men” to make the sale.

First, a new study reveals that, while many hospitals tout robotic surgery on their websites, “Materials provided by hospitals regarding the surgical robot overestimate benefits, largely ignore risks and are strongly influenced by the manufacturer.” More specifically, among the 41% of randomly selected hospital websites that describe robotic surgery,

37% percent presented robotic surgery on their homepage, 73% used manufacturer-provided stock images or text, and 33% linked to a manufacturer website. Statements of clinical superiority were made on 86% of websites, with 32% describing improved cancer control, and 2% described a reference group. No hospital website mentioned risks.

As Fierce Healthcare editor Janice Simmons points out,

[A]ccording to lead researcher Marty Makary, MD, of Johns Hopkins, no randomized, controlled studies have been completed showing patient benefit in robotic surgery. “New doesn’t always mean better,” he says, adding that robotic surgeries take more time, keep patients under anesthesia longer and are more costly.

In an interview with Science Daily, Makary went on to say, “We’re allowing industry to speak on behalf of hospitals and make unsubstantiated claims….Hospitals need to be more conscientious of their role as trusted medical advisers and ensure that information provided on their websites represents the best available evidence.  Otherwise, it’s a violation of the public trust.”

H/t: Gary Schwitzer’s Health News Review Blog.

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