Monday, August 16, 2010

How Doctors Think Intro

While I’m getting my act together and working on some more posts I thought this would be a good time to delve into a series about good book that I found at a library sale a while back. The book, How Doctors Think, was written by a Medical Doctor named Jerome Groopman. I hope you will find this useful. I think you will.
Dr. Groopman starts the book by talking a little bit about evidence-based medicine. “What in the world is evidence-based medicine?” I’m glad you asked. The premise of evidence-based medicine goes something like this…you have evidence (statistics) that show that your chosen plan of treatment is the “best” for a particular issue. For example, let’s say you want to know which of these 3 medicines best treats condition X. You will have 4 groups you study. Group 1 takes medicine A. Group 2 takes medicine B. Group 3 takes medicine C. Group 4 takes a placebo (sugar pill). The placebo group doesn’t know that they aren’t really getting an actual medicine. You follow these groups to see which one(s) have the best outcome. (This is a simplistic example but you get the idea…). Dr. Groopman makes the following statement about evidence-based medicine and statistics, “statistics cannot substitute for the human being before you, statistics embody averages, not individuals.”

I already like this doctor. Don’t you wish more doctors were like him? Now, does this mean that the health care field should throw evidence-based medicine out the window? No! It just means that those of us in the medical field should still use our God-given brains and think and reason. We need to listen to our patients (more to come on this topic). Just because something should work based on statistics does not mean it will work in any given individual. If it is not working, we need to try something else.

What do you think about Dr. Groopman’s statement? Would you want him (or someone like him) as your doctor?

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