BLOGS Voices Follow

18 Jan 2013

Media Coverage of Research: Does It Sometimes Miss the Point?

Sometimes when I see a new study in the media I wonder about the coverage. The media spin often makes it seem that the researchers are studying the obvious. Today I saw a headline in the American College of Cardiology CV News Digest that blared: “Postop Mortality May Be High When CPR is Required.” MedPage Today, Medwire, and Medscape covered this study. I have not read the paper, but fully accept that the conclusion is true. Still, I couldn’t help to wonder about it. Here is the blurb:

Study: Postop Mortality May Be High When CPR Is Required.

MedPage Today (1/18, Smith) reports, “One surgical patient in 203 had a cardiac arrest and needed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) either during or after surgery, according to analysis of a large 5-year database.” However, “fewer than one patient in five who had CPR survived to discharge in 30 days and the risk of death increased as the number of comorbidities rose, according to” researchers. The investigators found that approximately “three-quarters of patients who had CPR had a complication, such as sepsis, on or before the day of CPR.” The research was published in JAMA Surgery.

MedwireNews (1/18, McDermid) reports that “the most common complications were intubation (in 46.5% of patients), prolonged ventilator use (37.0%), septicemia (33.5%), renal impairment (17.7%), pneumonia (17.3%), and bleeding (16.0%).”

Medscape (1/18, Fox) reports that, according to the researchers, “Complications commonly precede arrest; prevention or aggressive treatment of these complications may potentially prevent CPR and improve outcomes. These data could aid discussions regarding advance directives among surgical patients.”

Do you encounter studies or coverage that make you wonder: Was that really a research question?