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When your doctor gives you health advice, and your insurer pays for the recommended treatment, you probably presume it’s based on solid evidence. But a great deal of clinical practice that’s covered by private insurers and public programs isn’t.

The British Medical Journal sifted through the evidence for thousands of medical treatments to assess which are beneficial and which aren’t. According to the analysis, there is evidence of some benefit for just over 40 percent of them. Only 3 percent are ineffective or harmful; a further 6 percent are unlikely to be helpful. But a whopping 50 percent are of unknown effectiveness. We haven’t done the studies.

Sometimes uncertain and experimental treatments are warranted; patients may even welcome them. When there is no known cure for a fatal or severely debilitating health condition, trying something uncertain — as evidence is gathered — is a reasonable approach, provided the patient is informed and consents.

…continue reading ‘Why Doctors Still Offer Treatments That May Not Help’

Thumb image via article – Associated Press/Mark Stehle

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New York Times

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