Physician’s First Watch Reviwed

Today Enoch reviews PFW. As usual, Enoch "gets it."

I've been involved with the project for a long time – and it has been a privilege to be involved in something so substantive.

In some ways – PFW serves one of the original goals that medical blogs were trying to reach: reviews of (and pointers to) important medical news on a regular basis. The "regular basis" is an important differentiator between weblogs and a professional he developed and provided resource such as PFW. There is no expectation that a blogger make a post every single day. On the other hand, a product such as PFW fields a reputation as a reliable new source by providing news and information on a daily basis.

Sometimes this is a true challenge, since there have been days in which there is clearly a dearth of truly important medical news.

It's interesting to see that medications gape has discovered and increased logs in the past 6 or 12 months. I remember when Steve Hoffman was there and Steve single-handedly motivated the company to provide RSS feeds well before most people knew what RSS feeds were. It even 18 months ago, it was hard to get Netscape to understand how powerful weblogs could be as a way to build and maintain readership.

And this is why PFW still differs quite a bit from weblogs: We provide important medical information in it claim, concise, well written summary that is deliver daily via e-mail or RSS. There is (by design) very little editorial opinion expressed about the content. In a conversation about the project with the neck a few months ago when I was in San Francisco, and when he pointed out that the discussion around the content may be just as informative or important for readers. He maybe right, but there is no reason that PFW can't serve as the nidus of such a discussion that takes place elsewhere.

For example, this story about salmeterol reminds us of the dangers of this long acting beta agonist when used incorrectly. I'm still not convinced that salmeterol is a dangerous drug inherently. salmeterol (like any medication) should be used carefully and appropriately. From my perspective, the article (and the previous warnings about salmeterol) or more about asthma than this medication. Asthma is a very serious illness and we need to understand that beta agonists (either short-acting or long acting) only treat the symptoms of this disease. Just as no one would expect albuterol two "cure" asthma, salmeterol plays no role in reducing inflammation as would corticosteroids or theophylline.

The staff editors and physician editorial board members of PFW discuss (by conference call) each article twice before publication. These conversations are often robust and educational for all involved, and sometimes I wish that the readership had access to some of the content of our discussions.

Yet if we remain focused on our goal of providing concise, well written summaries, perhaps the medical "blogosphere" will serve the function of creating and maintaining a forum for discussion of these important topics.