In a recent blog post, Dr. Kevin Campbell makes the point that when faced with recalls, physicians should remain focused on the patient, not on the press. I agree. What I don’t agree is with Dr. Campbell’s classification of the New York Times coverage of the recall (here, here and here) as “rhetoric”. Patients are usually the last ones to be warned of a recalled device, so we rely on the media for timely information.
Here’s my response to Dr. Campbell’s blog post:
I appreciate your intent, but I do not agree with your point of view. “Rhetoric put forth in the New York Times”? Seriously?
In a world in which physicians’ views are sometimes marred by speaking fees and consulting arrangements with medical device companies, patients must rely on the media for information about recalls.
This case is not at all about the sensationalization of a medical device recall. This is about the unprecedented request by St. Jude for the retraction of Dr. Hauser's paper and failed attempt to discredit his work by dragging a competitor down with them.
This is about the Class 1 recall of a lead that's been implanted in 79,000 U.S. patients. These are people who, like me, were told the device would be there to save their lives in case they ever needed it, and who are now learning that this might not be the case.
This is about how poorly the "the guys in the suits" have handled this crisis so far: defensively and arrogantly. And how it reflects on their company's image and reputation.
Doctors and medical device companies should realize that a new world has emerged. It is a world in which patients are more empowered, equipped with information and engaged in their care. We are connected through social media like never before and we are talking. We're talking about doctors, therapies, brands of devices and even recalls.
You can no longer control the message. Patients have the right to know. After all, we are the ones living with heart disease. That's how WE put ourselves at the center of a device recall.