More than 40% of hospitals surveyed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine posted information describing robotic surgery on their websites, yet none included risk information, according to a study published in the Journal for Healthcare Quality.
Oversight for robotic-surgery marketing urged
The study prompted the researchers to suggest that the Food and Drug Administration develop guidelines for the information published on hospital websites.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins analyzed the websites of 400 randomly selected hospitals in the U.S. in June 2010. The selection excluded VA hospitals and medical centers with less than 200 beds.
The study reported that of the 41% surveyed hospital websites that described robotic surgery, 73% used images and texts from the manufacturer, 37% posted the information on their homepages, and 33% provided links to the manufacturer's website.
"Even with increased costs and no clear evidence of superiority, robotic surgery has become an important marketing tool for hospitals in attracting patients and generating revenue. … Materials provided by hospitals regarding the surgical robot overestimate benefits, largely ignore risks and are strongly influenced by the manufacturer," the researchers wrote.
The report states that additional oversight is needed to monitor whether information posted to hospital websites is accurate and suggests that the FDA develop guidelines for "reporting the effectiveness of therapies on hospital websites."
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