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IOH team: too many accepted medical practices harmful, unproven

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2013 | Doctor Errors

The lead researcher of a team from the National Institutes of Health (IOH) states that the most dire problem existing in the medical industry today owes most prevalently to “when medical practices are instituted in error.” Dr. Vinay Prasad says that the way to combat that is through eliminating what the IOH teams calls “medical reversal.”

That latter term was the focus of a study carried out by Prasad and colleagues that scrutinized more than 1,300 articles appearing in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Medical reversal equates essentially to medical mistake that occurs nationally, including in New Jersey, relating to instances in which a commonly accepted and currently applied medical practice is subsequently deemed to have been ineffective — and sometimes harmful to patients — through research proving its inadequacy. Where error is perceived and reversed, patient safety is obviously enhanced.

According to Prasad and his team, there is a shocking amount of accepted medical practice that needs to be reversed. The IOH team’s focus on journal articles testing established practices — for example, a diagnostic screening tool, a surgical procedure, a medication — indicated that more than 40 percent of what is widely accepted for use within the medical industry is proven ineffective through rigorous testing.

Prasad says that the study’s thrust is important because eliminating what doesn’t work saves lives and resources, He notes, too, that failure to identify and discard ineffective practices “undermines trust in medicine.”

Prasad’s team cites a number of medical reversals of former practices that were widely common, including inappropriate stenting for coronary artery disease in stable patients; hormone therapy for postmenopausal women that was found to be riskier than not intervening at all; and incorrectly prescribed drugs for certain conditions.

“[M]uch of what we are doing today simply doesn’t help patients,” Prasad says.

Source: Medical Daily, “Medical errors: How common are they really?” Susan Scutti, July 22, 2013

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