Dec 19, 2008 | 4
Hey, doc. Watch what you say. Sticks and stones may break patients' bones but it turns out words – your words – may hurt them, too. A new study shows that physicians may unnecessarily frighten patients by using technical jargon instead of layman's terms for certain types of medical conditions, making them sound a lot worse than they really are. Some examples:“androgenic alopecia” instead of male pattern baldness or “myalgic encephalopathy” in place of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Researchers at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario report in the online journal PLoS One that 52 undergraduate students in a study considered disorders described in “medicalese” to be more serious and rare than when they were cast in simple terms. The technical talk proved confusing only for conditions (male pattern baldness, for one) that were not thought of as diseases until relatively recently.
Dec 9, 2008 | 1
Even as some states have required pharmacists to dole out generic drugs when they're available and insurers have offered financial incentives to doctors to prescribe them, the cost of prescription medications has continued to climb. Now there's evidence that docs who prescribe electronically are more likely to select generic than pricey brand-name meds.
Massachusetts physicians who used an e-prescribing system increased their use of generics by 6 percent—from 55 percent to 61 percent of all prescriptions they filled—compared with when they wrote them out by hand the old-fashioned way, according to a study in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine. Doctors who weren’t taught to use software that lets them fill 'scripts wirelessly also increased their use of generics, but by only 3 percent (from about 53 percent to 56 percent). The 18-month study involved more than 35,000 doctors, some 2,000 of whom had the option of using the PocketScript software. (The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the U.S. National Institutes of Health paid for the study.)
Dec 3, 2008 | 3
For years, doctors didn't bother to reveal profitable ties to drug and device makers: either no one questioned them or the relationships were hush-hush. But now that those financial arrangements are the subject of a congressional investigation and debate among medical journal editors and patients, some physicians are voluntarily cutting their pharma ties, and one of the country’s top medical centers has vowed to come clean by disclosing the names of their docs doctors on drug company payrolls. The goal: to avoid charges of masking potential conflicts of interest.
The Cleveland Clinic today began naming names on its Web site, a move first reported by the New York Times. Four-hundred of the clinic’s 1,800 physicians reportedly have such cozy biz relationships, according to clinic spokesperson Eileen Sheil. Patients deserve to have the info so they're comfortable that their care – and not potential profits — is the sole criteria of their treatment, Guy Chisolm III, the clinic’s conflict-of-interest committee chair, told the newspaper.
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