Monday, March 27, 2006

Medical (mis) information

If you haven't heard of Wikipedia yet, you will. It's an online encyclopedia with the idea that users will contribute the information and the online community will police itself with millions of potential editors to correct percieved inacuracies in the entries. It's the same philosophy of shareware software groups and the LINUX developer communities that contribute and modify software code.

This "group" model has been astoundingly succesful in software applications, with essentially free operating systems running many Fortune 500 companies' servers.

Well, check out Wikipedia's entries on medical topics and you see the potential for chaos when anyone with an agenda can unrelentingly control the content. Recently I added a good bit of content to the breast implant entry which was essentially neutral point-of-view and summarized the tort-insanity of the early 1990's silicone "crisis" as well as the numerous studies which failed to link gel implants to many of the auto-immune phenomena claimed in the lawsuits. Immeadiately this attracted the attention of a militant anti-silicone crusader who proceded to turn the topic into an unrecognizable distortion of the consensus data.

The following were quotes from this anonymous editor in the comments section:

"I know that my ruptured silicone implants nearly killed me"

"I must say that you are correct when you suggest that I am suspicious of doctors. I am particularly suspicious of plastic surgeons who benefit financially by the approval of silicone implants"

"This 'neutral' editing does a disservice to any article about silicone breast implants and the women who are interested in these issues"

"My personal opinion is that an FDA of this White House administration is more likely to approve silicone implants than a different FDA. Bush has not shown he is interested in consumer safety."

Does that sound like someone qualified to chime in on this topic in a neutral point of-view position? Surveying other controversial topics like Vaccines and alleged autism links, you see a great deal of partisan activist treatment of these topics.

Bottom line: medical information on unedited (professionally) sites should be viewed skeptically. That goes for my writing too BTW.

Rob Oliver Jr. MD


Andew Lusitano said...

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ang said...

It's a shame how a personal agenda can get in the way of the dispersion of information. Can you write a blog on the new gel implants? I've heard a lot about them, but only in bits and pieces.

Dr. Rob Oliver said...


If you scroll down I touched on this in an earlier post. The Inamed Corp style 410 implant is likely to be the first form-stable gel implant widely available. Hopefully we'll have it by the end of the year (you never know with the crazy politics surrounding this area)

Anonymous said...

Dr. Oliver chooses slanted versions of studies and cherry picks.

He asks how I am 'qualified' to edit the BI article on Wikopedia. I have a science and law background, and work with women who have had problems with breast implants. And no, it is not a conflict of interest, because the approval or disapproval of silicone implants has absolutely no impact on my work.

The "personal agenda" here is Oliver's.
He has already been told he could be banned on Wikopedia for linking this blog to Wikopedia, which is a conflict of interest.

He is outrageous, and violates professional ethics, from what I can see. He certainly violates the rules of Wikopedia.

Dr. Rob Oliver said...

Again, I'll simply let the body of literature make my case here. Molly Bloom (the anon. editor referred to here) has a personal commitment to spinning this as a political issue.