Abstract

The freedom of a doctor to treat an individual patient in the way he believes best has been markedly limited by the concept of evidence-based medicine. Clearly all would wish to practice according to the best available evidence, but it has become accepted that "evidence-based" means that which is derived from randomized, and preferably double-blind, clinical trials. The history of clinical trial development, which can be traced to the use of oranges and lemons for the treatment of scurvy in 1747, has reflected a progressive need to establish whether smaller and smaller effects of treatment are real. It has led to difficult concepts such as "equivalence" and aberrations such as "meta-analysis." An examination of evidence-based practice shows that it has usually been filtered through the opinions of experts and journal editors, and "opinion-based medicine" would be a more appropriate term. In the real world of individual patients with multiple diseases who are receiving a number of different drugs, the practice of evidence-based (or even opinion-based) medicine is extremely difficult. For each patient a judgment has to be made by the clinician of the likely balance of risks and benefits of any therapy. Good practice still requires clinical freedom for doctors.

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 549-568
Launched on MUSE
2002-11-01
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.