Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What a Hospital Ad Does Not Tell You

"The thousands of minimally invasive procedures performed by our cardiac surgeons have shown shorter hospital stays and reduced recovery time, among other benefits.  This proven record of strong outcomes is why we are nationally ranked in cardology and heart surgery by U.S. News and World Report."

This full page advertisement by NYC Langone Medical Center,  on the back page of the Business Section of The New York Times (Oct 1) must have cost quite a bit.

You need to notice what it does not say.  It says nothing about actual long-term outcomes.  It says nothing about the success of the procedures.  It says nothing about re-admission rates, it says nothing about infection rates.  It says nothing about morbidity and mortality rates.  It says nothing about actual diagnoses and statistics regarding each form of abnormality treated.

Please readers, pay no attention to such ads.  The only useful information contained therein is that minimally invasive heart surgery techniques are available at Langone (as they are, by the way, at most all major cardiovascular surgical centers in the United States).

Below is a summary of the state of minimally invasive surgery from a recent NIH review:

1. Minimally invasive cardiac surgery (MICS) represents a safe and effective approach for a variety of cardiac surgical diseases.
2. MICS does not appear to result in differences in short- or long-term survival compared with the sternotomy approach.
3. MICS may be associated with lower rates of perioperative complications in certain instances.
4. MICS appears to result in decreased length of hospitalization, improved pain control and faster recovery to normal activities.
5. Continued research is necessary to assess long-term outcomes of minimally invasive approaches.
6. With regard to outcome measures such as quality of life, minimally invasive approaches may be the standard on which to compare evolving percutaneous technologies.

Pay particular attention to statements No. 2 and No. 5.

When choosing your medical center and your surgeon, ask the right questions - be fully informed.  Do not pay attention to these expensive marketing techniques that many medical centers are now using to increase their market-share!

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