Imagine this scenario: You’re a principal investigator at a hospital in a large metropolis where you’ve been practicing cardiology for the past several years. You’re called to consult on a case in the emergency room (ER). Upon examination of the unconscious patient, you realize that he is the ideal candidate for a new device trial that treats his specific condition. On top of this, it’s a trial you’ve been having difficulty finding subjects for.
You have a consultation with the patient’s wife who has accompanied him to the hospital and describe the device and how it may be able to help her husband. You make a point to explain that it’s experimental and not yet approved by the FDA
or any other regulatory body but describe the almost miraculous results other patients have had. The wife, unbeknownst to you, is active on social media and is exposed to all sorts of sites that traffic in rumors, gossip, and information gleaned from unreliable sources. If there is fake news to be disseminated, she is a likely
target. Despite your best efforts, she is unconvinced and when her husband regains consciousness, they check out with his condition untreated.
This may sound unreal but between 1-2% of all hospital admissions result in a discharge against medical advice1. Furthermore, just a summary scan of Facebook itself for the keywords “doctors” and “lie” brought up several groups with names like “Do not trust your NHS doctors they lie” (66 members), “The Lies your doctor told you” (33 members), “Doctors Lie You die” (35 members) with people who have posted and shared information or misinformation about medicine. Misinformation is out there and is an unfortunate and accepted part of working in health care. So, how can it affect your ability to find much needed subjects who are willing to participate in device trials?
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