Friday, March 13, 2009

Evidence-Based Medicine

Upon information and belief, evidence-based medicine (EBM) is how health care providers practice medicine by applying the conclusions gained from those who authentically implemented the scientific method to acquire these conclusions.

These conclusions from relevant clinical trials are analyzed by others in regards to the risks and benefits to be considered for the treatment protocols for the patients of health care providers.

These trials are determined to be the best evidence available presently for the systematic analysis that is performed. This paradigm of a practicing fully utilizing EBM allows the health care provide to better predict the clinical outcomes from the ideal treatment options concluded according to EBM.

EBM implemented by health care providers recognize the need for improved quality in medicine. They also strive to place tremendous value on the restoration of the health of their patients- and they perceive the EBM approach to be the standard approach in their medical practices.

It is believed that there are three areas of evidence-based medicine:

1. Treat patients according to what is reasonable and necessary based on the evidence that exists regarding the treatment options health care providers select.

2. Health care providers review this evidence in order to judge and assess the best treatment for their patients.

3. Recognize that evidence-based medicine is in fact a movement that emphasizes the usefulness of this method to practice medicine.

A standard of care is created as a result.

It is also believed that there are two types of evidence-based medicine:

1. Evidence-based guidelines- Policies and regulations are produced to ensure optimal health care.

2. Evidence-based individual decision making- This is how restoring the health of others is practiced by the health care provider.

While critics claim that EBM is too restrictive in practicing medicine and treating patients, EBM seems to be the preferred way to practice medicine instead of relying on possibly biased medical guidelines. Rather than EBM being restrictive, it is in fact potentially improved by enhancements such as electronic health records.

Medical guidelines for a particular disease state are created from a combination of clinical studies in which conclusions are drawn to reflect national standards of care for a particular disease state. Guidelines were implemented during the 1980s as an alternative to relying on only EBM.

At times, these guidelines are privately sponsored by those profitable medical industries that are able to gain profit depending on what such guidelines state about treatment considerations. This makes guidelines, at times, unreliable due to bias, as they are without independent systematic review or quality considerations by others.

Unlike evidence-based medicine, guidelines can have major flaws and inaccuracies due to toxic factors such as commercial sponsorship received to create such guidelines. It is likely because of flaws such as this that most doctors do not follow medical guidelines, yet are rewarded and reimbursed by programs such as Medicare if they do follow medical guidelines that are established.

Dan Abshear


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