Re: Medical reporting in the lay press

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 50, No. 3, April 2008, Page 124 Letters

Dr Wilson: you wrote, “I don’t know how the rest of you deal with the office chaos that results from irresponsible reporting in the lay press” [BCMJ 2008;50(1):9]. 

I try to nip it in the bud by correcting it; I write a letter to the editor. 

From time to time one or two of the local papers have published a poorly re­searched or misleading article (e.g., “If the public health authorities wanted to reduce deaths, they would fund research into lung cancer, not pay for the HPV vaccine,” or “the superbug is community acquired.”) 

I replied with a polite clarification (“the HPV vaccine is worthwhile,” and “superbugs arise from overuse of antibiotics,”) and my letters have been published. A couple of patients have commented positively about my letters.

Not everyone has had scientific training, but most people are willing to learn. Editors are happy to consider a polite and informative letter, and I would suggest that doctors write to them.

—Robert Shepherd, MDCM

Robert Shepherd, MD. Re: Medical reporting in the lay press. BCMJ, Vol. 50, No. 3, April, 2008, Page(s) 124 - Letters.

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Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

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