Hospital Website Health Care Information May Not Be Reliable

Rob Wipond
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A research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine discussed how information about a newly-approved surgical heart procedure was being presented on the websites of 317 US hospitals, and found the information presented was generally very “imbalanced.” An accompanying commentary pointed out that many people seeking health information online do not realize that at a hospital website they might be viewing an “advertisement” rather than an “education portal.”

The researchers looked for 11 well identified possible benefits and 11 important risks associated with the procedure. “But only 23 percent of the hospital websites mentioned even a single risk,” reports MinnPost in a detailed discussion of the two articles.

Medical information on many hospital websites is unbalanced, study finds (MinnPost, January 16, 2015)

Kincaid ML, Fleisher LA, and Neuman MD. “PResentation on Us Hospital Websites of Risks and Benefits of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement Procedures.” JAMA Internal Medicine, January 12, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.7392. (Abstract)

Schenker Y, and London A. “RIsks of Imbalanced Information on Us Hospital Websites.” JAMA Internal Medicine, January 12, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.7400. (Abstract)

4 COMMENTS

  1. “U.S. hospital websites need closer scrutiny, they add — and perhaps stricter advertising regulations.

    In the meantime, caveat emptor.”

    What a shame the hospitals are unaware of the fact that false advertising is illegal in the US. What a pity we may no longer trust the medical profession. “First and foremost do no harm” is passé. “Caveat emptor” is the name of the game with today’s for profit only, public and non-profit hospitals.

    How long will it take our society to learn that giving the medical community unchecked power is unwise? They are not ethical enough to handle it and are killing more Americans than have died in all wars combined.

    • In our brave new world it has become more dangerous to go to a doctor than not to in many cases. You can’t trust that your doctor will a) have your best interest as opposed his own financial gain in mind b) even if he does that he will be able to get the necessary information in order to do no harm and maybe actually help.
      It’s scary…

  2. Unfortunately, US Government websites are often similarly inaccurate. Part of the problem is that inaccurate information is actually accepted as medically and scientifically accurate by such a large part of the medical community that dissenting voices are drowned out. Consider the “chemical imbalance” concept, discredited for depression in the early 1980s and yet alive and well in millions of websites and doctors’ offices across the country. Marketing has long since trumped science, in all of medicine, but especially in psychiatry. “Caveat Emptor” indeed!

    —- Steve

    • Yes, it’s pathetic, perhaps it’s time for the medical community to once again confess that medicine was historically known as an art for a wise reason, they don’t have all the answers and every person is different, thus reacts to drugs differently. Especially since “evidence based medicine” now seems to be nothing more than pharmaceutical industry biased misinformation.

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