Longer Looks: Plenty of Diagnostic Errors; A Patient Revolution

Every week reporter Ankita Rao selects interesting reading from around the Web.

National Journal: No, Oncologists Are Not Going Broke
When the automatic spending cuts kicked in for Medicare this month, every doctor saw a 2 percent reduction in reimbursement from the government insurance program. But cancer doctors have made the most noise. … Partly, this is political theater. While some oncologists warn that patients will lose access to lifesaving care, others admit they'll simply absorb the cuts and keep treating their ailing charges. Their median compensation was $430,695 in 2011, according to the Medical Group Management Association. But the situation also highlights how problematic the business of oncology has become. Federal-payment policies have distorted the market and perverted incentives for providers (Margot Sanger-Katz, 4/18).

Time: Diagnostic Errors Are The Most Common Type Of Medical Mistake
When Dr. David Newman-Toker was a medical resident at a Boston hospital, he witnessed what he calls tragic cases in which otherwise healthy people suffered serious consequences from misdiagnoses that could have been prevented. Newman-Toker, now an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, recalls an 18-year-old aspiring Olympic skater who fell on a ski slope and came to the hospital with weakness on one side of her body and a headache. She was told she had a migraine and was sent home. Six days later, she returned to the hospital after a stroke compromised the entire right side of her brain … Not every visit to the hospital has a happy ending, and neither does every misdiagnosis lead to severe harm, but Newman-Toker's personal experiences motivated him to improve medical misdiagnoses, which he says are not only common, but preventable in most cases (Alexandra Sifferlin, 4/24).

Forbes: A Former Google Exec Aims To Power A Patient Revolution
Last week I went to TedMed, the big medical innovation summit run by Priceline founder Jay Walker. The most important presentation I saw may have come from Roni Zeiger, who for six years ending in 2012 was the chief health strategist at Google. The Google Health application created on Zeiger's watch, which was meant to allow patients to upload their medical records, ended in failure in 2011. But his new effort, a five-person outfit called Smart Patients, actually does look like something that could actually change the way patients, doctors, and industry interact. Its web site, envisioned as a kind of combination of clinical trials search engine and message board community, might further empower cancer patients whose relationship with their disease has already been changed fundamentally by the Internet (Matthew Herper, 4/24).

The Atlantic: Medical Research Cuts Have Immediate Health Effects
I have always been an athlete. Running, swimming, and skiing give me mental clarity and a lot of joy. So it was shattering to get a diagnosis two months ago, at the age of 37, that meant my lungs were slowly being replaced by cysts. … Now, with research funding at an all time low, the odds of continued development are not in our favor. The sequester is essentially slowly killing me and millions of patients still looking for cures. This week my doctor, a lung disease specialist at Columbia University, marched on Washington in the Rally for Medical Research to protest the sequester-induced 5 percent budget cut to the NIH (Sarah Bacon, 4/17).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.