Why you shouldn’t believe everything you read

Two days ago someone left us a message about a new web site called HIFUcertified.com. We looked briefly at a couple of pages of the site and learned very little.

“That’s interesting,” we thought. “Who’s certifying these specialists? And what does ‘certified’ mean?” So we responded to the e-mail address provided (info@hifucertified.com) and asked for a little more information.

Note: The following content has been updated since the original post.

Initially we received an automated response informing us that this e-mail address was non-functional. However, it is now functional.

We also looked more closely at this site and would bring the following to the attention of our readers:

  • There is no information anywhere on the site suggesting who owns this site.
  • According to one page on the site, only two physicians per state in the USA will be promoted on the site, which means that if the three best practitioners of HIFU in America are all based in one state, this site will make it impossible for the third physician to sign up.
  • No specific qualifications whatsoever appear to be required to become “certified” by this site other than a physician’s personal claim that he knows what he is doing.
  • The “Terms and conditions” and Contact us” links at the foot of each page are non-functional.

As of 11:00 am on June 8, we have spoken with the site owner. He has assured us that the items above will be addressed and that greater clarity will be given with respect to the issues itemized. However, until the site has been significantly improved we certainly do not believe that patients should use this site as a reliable means to find highly qualified physicians with extensive experience of carrying out HIFU for prostate cancer. This site is designed to promote the practices of physicians who claim to be able to practice HIFU, but it provides no information about their experience, skill levels or the outcomes achieved by their patients.

We wish to make it very clear that this post is not intended to be critical of the current and potential use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in the management of prostate cancer (or other disorders) by appropriately qualified and experienced physicians and surgeons. However, we have advised the site owner that, in our estimation, it is at best misleading to suggest that this site lists physicians who are “certified” in some way to practice HIFU without giving very clear information about exactly what such certification implies (which may be no more than attending a course organized by a manufacturer of one type of HIFU equipment).

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