Stories We're Following This Week

News + Insights from around the Web + The Patient's Playbook Bottom Line. 


A Doctor Weighs in on Grandma's Health Advice: Was She Right?

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“Despite hearing it from... my grandmother while growing up, I can never remember which one it is—‘feed a cold, starve a fever’ or is it ‘starve a cold, feed a fever.’ And they don't ask it on medical boards—because neither are completely true.” 

—Health myth or genuinely helpful advice? A doctor weighs in on this,
and many more of grandma's rules. (Huffington Post)

Bottom Line: As the author notes, before there was “Dr. Google,” there was “Dr. Grandma”—and she typically had good advice! But when you’re feeling bad, and you know something is wrong, it’s imperative that you seek the professional advice of a trusted primary care physician, so that you can get to an evidence-based solution to your problem.


6 Running Tips to Keep You Safe This Winter

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Planning on exercising in the great outdoors this winter? A running coach gives expert advice on avoiding falls, staying warm, and making sure cars can see you. (Health)

Bottom Line: Don’t let normal winter weather derail your running routine. Just take some precautions. These tips can help keep you safe, warm, and healthy!


The Hidden Financial Incentives Behind Your Shorter Hospital Stay

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Thinkstock

“Sometimes doctors overestimate how much support is available at home and discharge a patient too soon; sometimes we underestimate and discharge too late.”

—When a patient leaves the hospital depends on more than clinical factors. (New York Times)

Bottom line: Doctors are fallible, just like us. It's unreasonable to expect our physicians to have superhuman immunity to the financial incentives that are influencing and driving our increasingly fractured health care system. That’s why it’s so important to have a quarterback with you in the hospital to help you take charge of your own care. Communicate your concerns if you feel you are being discharged too early. And when you're ready to go home, be sure to get full discharge instructions. Here are my 10 Questions You Must Ask Before Leaving the Hospital.


Why California is Leading An Ambitious Plan To Lower C-Section Rates

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An alarming report shows: “A healthy pregnant woman’s chances of giving birth by C-section are uncomfortably dependent upon where she delivers her baby.”

—In California, a foundation plans to financially reward hospitals for vaginal birth
in an effort to lower the rate of C-sections (KQED)

Bottom line: Geography should not shape your medical destiny. But when it comes to C-sections, which can be risky and costly procedures, it sure seems to. According to the report, 27% of healthy women in California deliver their babies by C-section. But women who delivered at certain “low-performing hospitals” had a greater than 50% risk. Your and your baby’s health is of the utmost importance, and C-sections can sometimes become medically necessary. But always discuss your concerns with your physicians and make your wishes clearly known. 


These Oxford University Students Are On a Mission To Expose a Sneaky Practice Called "Outcome Switching"

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“When we get the wrong answer, in medicine, that’s not a matter of academic sophistry—it causes avoidable suffering, bereavement, and death. So it’s worth being as close to perfect as we can possibly be.”

—Researchers have managed to "dupe the public" with a strategy known as outcome switching. (Vox)

Bottom line: Outcome switching, in brief, is when researchers publish favorable outcomes from clinical trials and fail to report the results that turned out differently than they had expected. It’s a practice that led the antidepressant Paxil to be wrongly marketed to children, with disastrous results. The Compare Project, run by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, at the University of Oxford, is systematically checking every trial published in the top five medical journals, and sending letters to the journals when they find discrepancies. You can view their surprising results here.


Got a great story we should be following? Let us know in the comments below.