By Gina Kolata
You might assume that standard medical advice was supported by mounds of scientific research. But researchers recently discovered that nearly 400 routine practices were flatly contradicted by studies published in leading journals.
Of more than 3,000 studies published from 2003 through 2017 in JAMA and the Lancet, and from 2011 through 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than one of 10 amounted to a “medical reversal”: a conclusion opposite of what had been conventional wisdom among doctors.
“You come away with a sense of humility,” said Dr. Vinay Prasad of Oregon Health and Science University, who conceived of the study. “Very smart and well-intentioned people came to practice these things for many, many years. But they were wrong.”
Some of those ideas have been firmly dislodged, but not all. Now Dr. Prasad and his colleagues are trying to learn how widespread are discredited practices and ideas.
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