Monday, February 15, 2016

1604 Where's the Clinic?

Today, we take another overused saw from the Wessays™ Unabridged Dictionary of Empty Phrases and try to fill it with meaning.

The phrase is “clinically tested.”  Nowadays, everything is “clinically tested.”   Some things are not only clinically tested, but they’re clinically proven.   Proven is even oilier than tested.  But it’s not used as often.  Yet.

Ten years ago, almost no one had heard of something called a probiotic.  We knew what antibiotics were.  But probiotic was something new.  Something to improve your body chemistry.  Now there are a zillion probiotics and they’re all clinically tested.

There are two kinds of clinical tests: the traditional kind where there’s an actual clinic and actual clinicians who follow strict procedures and document the results and where neither the clinician nor the patient knows which of several treatments they’re getting.

Then, there are the back alley clinics.  That’s when some defrocked doc or maybe a hospital candy striper volunteer slaps a patch of calamine lotion on the acne of six patients and records positive results for four of them.

The marketing folks run with the results: “Two thirds of the patients saw improvement in as little as six weeks.”  If only three patients improve, the advertising line becomes “a majority of patients showed improvement.”

There’s some doubt that 50% is a majority. But the case can be made.  Also, there’s no mention of the sixth patient whose forehead fell off during the clinical trial and who now must wear a head bandage to avoid exposing her skull to infection until the skin grows back.

We all know of famous clinics.  The Mayo, the Cleveland.  Each is hospital based.  And we all know famous hospitals that don’t call themselves clinics but which are: Sloan Kettering, Columbia Presbyterian/Cornell, Kaiser Permanente, Johns Hopkins, Boston Children’s, and on and on.

You can bet these places are not where many of the perpetually advertised clinical trials are conducted.

Then, there are temporary clinics.  Like Sergeant Major Charles Garrett’s trombone clinic at Ft. Meade, Maryland.  Is this where they tested Culturelle?  Probably not.

Maybe Jim’s Auto Clinic in Cincinnati?

Hmmm.  Wonder if Jim’s is dermatologist recommended.   

Probably not.  Dermatologists usually recommend skin products that are clinically tested but they don’t recommend car repair places.

In fact, if your dermatologist isn’t an auto buff or a trombonist, ignore her recommendation for anything but that acne lotion.  Even if it’s the one that made the sixth participant expose her skull.


--Liberals and centrists have a tough time with Scalia, the supreme court justice who died this weekend at 79.  While Scalia was the nemesis of anything even faintly progressive, he was both brilliant as a scholar-lawyer and likable as a person. And he was true to his beliefs, however erroneous they may have been.

--Scalia and other Reaganauts reset the left-right pendulum swing.  The crazy right came to be seen as  “conservative,” real conservatives became centrists and real centrists became left wing extremists.

Quote of the day:

“The board acts in the best interest of both students and staff.” -- President Joshua Foster of the Center Moriches, New York school board in justifying its removal of a long-serving art teacher from her classroom because she took a grieving student to a convenience store and bought her a hot chocolate.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016

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