Doctors portrayed as bandwagon followers unnecessarily

Well it looks like you found this blog somehow. Welcome!

My plan is to take everyday news articles and deconstruct them from a skeptical perspective. The general mission is “Question everything you read.” I will look at the way that reporters present messages in their writing and point out the questions I would ask the reporter if I was in a conversation.

Posting will be irregular.

This page was inspired by recent discussions about my skepticism and by an article I read in U.S. News and World Report about “prediagnosing” illnesses before they actually show up in a person.

Katherine Hobson starts:

One fall day in 2003, more than 20 million Americans went to bed healthy and woke up sick. They didn’t feel any different—no 24-hour stomach virus, no late-fall cold. What happened? An international committee published new guidelines for declaring someone “prediabetic”—that is, at increased risk of developing diabetes. Overnight, people who had never considered themselves sick were being told by their doctors that they had a medical problem. “Here are people who have been mostly doing what I asked—they’ve been keeping their weight under control, exercising, and keeping their blood sugar levels constant, which is a good thing,” says Jenni Levy, a primary-care physician in Bethlehem, Pa. “But now I had to say that this is now abnormal. You have not changed, your blood sugar hasn’t changed, but the rules have changed.”
Now when I read this, all I could think of was why don’t they come out and say which international committee published these guidelines? Certainly doctors don’t change their prognoses overnight. These messages take time to percolate through the diverse medical community, and I would imagine a great number of doctors would take such a study with a grain of salt.

Certainly the role of doctor involves giving the best care your patients could possibly get, but doctors make up a social group that involves a lot of give and take. One paper, regardless of the committee that publishes it, could never be expected to change the face of medicine and have the impact this opening paragraph might have you think.

So there you have it. Perhaps a minor point to make, but still a valid one in my opinion. What do you think?

Grant Hutchins @nertzy