Dr. Bernadine Healy, a columnist for U.S. News & World Report, used to be director of the National Institutes of Health, the world’s foremost collector of biomedical evidence. The fact that she is considered the only NIH director who demonstrated a political agenda is borne out by her astounding attack this week on the concept of “evidence-based medicine.” She goes so far around the bend as to align herself with the cranks who wrote that the use of actual evidence in medical decision-making constitutes “micro-fascism.”
Although the term is fairly new “evidence-based medicine” is simple. Take all the randomized clinical trials on a subject, run them through rigorous statistical analysis, take into account other kinds of studies, and reach a conclusion as to what works and what doesn’t.
We employ evidence to make almost every other decision in our lives, from choosing a cell phone plan, to buying a car to investing in the stock market. Evidence-based medicine is neither a cure-all nor plot against doctors. It is simply a tool for applying macro-facts to a set of individual micro-circumstances for which the correct answer has to be, “Is this right for me?”