This column likes evidence-based medicine. It is impossible to defend anything else: to pretend there is no need for evidence – or to ignore it – means ignoring the duty to ensure patients get the best possible care.
It would be nice to think that medical research has now got its act together, after many shameful episodes of wilful, look-away ignorance – advising parents to put babies to sleep on their tummies, for example, which substantially increases risk of cot death. But standards are still nowhere near where they should be.
A terrific paper on this subject was published recently in The Lancet, written by two heroes of mine: Sir Iain Chalmers, editor of the James Lind Library, and Paul Glasziou, of the Department of Primary Care at the University of Oxford. It is a scathing rebuke to those who feel that developments in research standards have gone far enough.
The remainder of the article can be read here.