Why Dr. Oz Does Not Have The Last Word On Bunion Surgery

Patrick DeHeer DPM FACFAS

When people perceive you as the expert of all things medical, you have a responsibility to report accurately based on current literature. Mehmet Oz, MD, is a cardiothoracic surgeon and television personality. Recently on his show, he profiled bunion surgery. He titled the show “The Surgery You Should Say ‘No’ To.”

In my opinion, this show displayed some of the most irresponsible medical journalism I have witnessed in some time. The Dr. Oz Show is a popular daytime show that many turn to for medical information and education in a way the layperson can easily understand.

I did not see the original show when it aired but watched it online (See http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/surgery-you-should-say-no ). I was dismayed by the lack of journalistic integrity Dr. Oz displayed. I was glad to see Dr. Oz invited Crystal Holmes, DPM, to speak toward the end of the segment about non-surgical treatment of bunion deformities. (However, she failed to discuss custom orthoses, which are a vital part of non-surgical bunion deformity treatments.)

Dr. Oz clearly had the most minimal knowledge of hallux abducto valgus deformity. He displayed this when he was using simulated drawings on the screen to describe the deformity. Not only were the drawings very poorly done but his explanation was incorrect as well. For example, he pointed to the proximal phalanx when describing the “bump” of a bunion deformity. The animation went on to show an Austin bunionectomy but most of the show was dedicated to the McBride bunionectomy.

There was no discussion on the different types of bunion deformities or the different types of procedures and their indications. Clearly as a cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Oz has only rudimentary knowledge of hallux abducto valgus and the surgeries used to correct the deformity.

The lowest and most amateur point of the segment was simulated surgery with a gigantic Styrofoam foot. Dr. Oz used a two-person saw to perform an exostectomy after showing things like a hammer and chisel, toolbox saw and crowbar. It was extremely sensationalistic.

I am sure Dr. Holmes had little say regarding the segment so I do not blame her for the utterly unprofessional public education from this show. I blame Dr. Oz and the show producers. There was not one mention of any evidence based-medicine for the treatment of hallux abducto valgus. They poorly described the indications for surgery as well. There was no legitimate educational component in the show. Dr. Oz could have served as an interviewer of a true professional who routinely treats bunions and provided real education.

Dr. Oz, I ask you not to forget that you are a medical professional. With your celebrity status, you must provide the highest ethics in educating the public. If you are speaking about a topic on which you are not an expert, utilize someone who is a true expert by putting on your journalism hat instead of your medical hat. In this case, interviewing DPMs to cover the complete range of conservative and surgical treatment options would have provided an accurate and more informative program for the public.

Comments

I had a patient come in yesterday for a pre-operative conference for bunion surgery. A nice lady, she was very nervous because of having seen the Dr. Oz segment. Some people are very very skittish about the details of surgery and this patient had to be talked off the ledge so to speak. She was much relieved after we chatted and I went over what REALLY happens.

Dr. Oz has some good information but the rest is purely "medical entertainment," which caters to the lowest common denominator of fear and sensationalism.

Anyone who would take their medical advice from a TV star is not a good surgical candidate anyway and deserves conservative therapy forever and ever.

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