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Medical Care Becoming More Confusing


Randomized clinical trials were originally established to help dispel incorrect medical assumptions and make better choices in patient care. Today, however, with 25,000 medical journals worldwide, an average of 82 clinical trials published each day, and conflicting results common, debate has grown about whether relying on so-called evidence-based medicine is a smart approach after all.     

While proponents rely on evidence-based medicine (practicing based on the results of clinical trials) as the final word, critics argue that this practice undermines doctors' experience and patients' preferences. Further, keeping up with the latest medical findings, assuming they are correct in the first place, is next to impossible. The end result is that patients are increasingly getting vastly different medical opinions about the same problem, and are left wondering what's the best thing for their health.

Adding to the confusion, doctors and hospitals are slow to change their practices to reflect new findings that are verified, either because of time and resource constraints or bias that their former ways are superior despite the new research.

If you take a look at the graphic from USA Today, you'll notice that the United States will spend about $2.2 trillion on medical care in 2006, and the majority of that is going toward hospital care and physician services. It's clear that you can no longer count on your doctor, hospital or the government to tell you all you need to know about your health. You have to do some of your own homework to stay optimally healthy.

USA Today October 16, 2006

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