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SGEM Xtra: The Danger Within Us

SGEM Xtra: The Danger Within Us
Date: March 23rd, 2018

This is a SGEM Xtra book review. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeanne Lenzer. She is an award-winning independent medical investigative journalist who has written for the BMJ. Jeanne has also written for the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, Huffington Post and Slate.

Jeanne book is called The Danger Within Us: America’s Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man’s Battle to Survive It. In the book, she takes a critical look at the medical device industry.

One of the main inspiration for her book is the Legend of Emergency Medicine Dr. Jerome Hoffman. He is also one of my mentors who taught me to be skeptical of the medical literature.

Jeanne Lenzer

Jeanne Lenzer

Listen to the podcast on iTunes as Jeanne describes some of the problems with the medical device industry. Some of the disturbing facts she provides include:

  • Medical interventions have become the third leading cause of death in America.
  • The FDA does not require clinical testing for most high-risk implanted devices.
  • The death rate caused by medical devices is unknown, because no one is keeping track.

Jeanne provides some of examples of patients who experienced significant harm instead of benefit with implantable medical devices like a vagus nerve stimulator or metal on metal artificial hip. We also discuss some of the possible solutions to the medical device industry and mention some additional resources: Choosing WiselyLown InstituteRight Care AllianceClinicalTrials.govJohn Ioannidis, and James McCormick.

Let me know if you like this type of SGEM Xtra and if the responses are positive I will consider doing more book reviews.

The SGEM will be back next week with a structured critical review of a recent publication trying to cut the knowledge translation window down from over ten years to less than one year.


Remember to be skeptical of anything you learn, even if you heard it on the Skeptics’ Guide to Emergency Medicine.


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