The BMJ Today: Einstein’s theory of data, climate change and the “threat to human survival,” and New York facing legal challenge over e-cigs ban

“Information is not knowledge,” was Einstein’s cautionary take on the power (and limitation) of data. In healthcare, the collection of patient feedback and other data is regularly hailed as the panacea for all ills, physical or otherwise. In an analysis published on today, Angela Coulter and colleagues argue that in the UK, the NHS has been good at collecting data on patients’ experience of care, but has not yet used this information to systematically improve services. The authors suggest this could be remedied by establishing a national institute of “user” experience—to draw data together, determine how to interpret results, and put them into practice. The BMJ’s editor in chief Fiona Godlee reflects on how doctors can apply this work to their own practice in this week’s editor’s choice.

One area that has benefitted greatly from data is climate change. In a BMJ editorial: public health expert David McCoy and colleagues preview the upcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which focuses on the impacts of global warming. “The IPCC’s new report should leave the world in no doubt about the scale and immediacy of the threat to human survival, health, and wellbeing,” say the authors.

Elsewhere, obstetricians have said that the first prosecution for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the UK could lead to doctors fearing criminal charges if they carry out repairs to stop post-birth bleeding in women who have previously been subjected to the illegal procedure. Read the full story here.

And in the US, a smokers’ rights group is gearing up for a battle with the city of New York after filing a suit challenging the city’s ban on the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in enclosed public spaces.

Gareth Iacobucci is news reporter, BMJ.