Lessons from the Wakefield Case

So many others have written on Wakefield’s fraud, and considered the role of the press in perpetuating the notion that vaccines cause autism, I wasn’t going to cover it here on ML. But I do think there are a few instructive points from this “lesson” about medical communication and news:

1. People aren’t always rational in their decisions about health care. (This is an understatement.)

Perspective on Screening for Sickle Cell Trait in Student Athletes

In some ways this seems like a pro-active, well-intentioned policy that could save lives. On the other hand, as discussed in the NEJM piece, the new screening policy raises a host of challenging issues:

* how will colleges inform minor players’ parents about results?
* how will the schools handle players’ privacy?…

On Patient Empowerment and Autonomy

…I think the answer is inherent in the goal of being engaged, and that has to do with the concept of patient autonomy – what’s essentially the capacity of a person to live and make decisions according to one’s own set of knowledge, goals and values.

Autonomy in medicine, which borders on the empowerment idea, can be an aim in itself, and therefore valuable regardless of any measured outcome.

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