Despair ruins some, presumption many.
American statesman and philosopher Benjamin Franklin notes the dangers of presuming too much about any subject, and this week’s cardiovascular news is equally effective in debunking some well-accepted or newly formed presumptions.

Most importantly, the belief that there will always be enough cardiologists to treat the No. 1 killer in the U.S. was found to be untrue by ACC research released today ahead of print. In fact, there appears to be a shortage of 3,000 cardiologists in today’s workplace. The ACC predicts that this problem will only worsen over the next 40 years, compounded by the aging baby boomers, the obesity epidemic and the prolonged life of those living with heart disease.

In the meantime, President Obama, especially through his speech last night, is asking lawmakers and U.S. healthcare consumers to reexamine their hesitations and previously conceived assumptions when approaching the healthcare reform debate.

Despite speculation that Medicare patients are being shunned, a new Center for Studying Health System Change survey of nearly 3,000 doctors revealed that three-quarters of U.S. physicians are accepting all or most new Medicare patients. Understanding how physicians organize their practices will be critical for policy makers, who are attempting to assess the current healthcare system and correct its wrongs.

In a thumbs up for industry, the FDA debunked a commonly held assertion that pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers are remiss in completing their after-market studies. An agency review revealed that more than 80 percent of post-marketing studies are meeting their timelines.

Finally, a recent Circulation study may have found a chink in the armor of the oft-lauded and incredibly popular annual hospital rankings of U.S. News & World Report. The researchers compared the magazine’s performance measures to those of CMS and discovered that ranked and nonranked hospitals have similar readmission rates for heart failure. More shocking is that nonranked providers have a significantly lower than expected 30-day mortality rate for heart failure.

Ambrose Bierce, who was writing nearly 150 years after Franklin, similarly advised, “we should probably not err on the side of presumption,” and as the face of the U.S. cardiovascular field continues to change, a willingness to rid ourselves of such burdens may be freeing in this time of change.

On these topics, or any others, please feel free to contact me.

Justine Cadet