Chart of the Day: Doctors Are Just Winging It

Austin Frakt highlights this chart from a 2013 special issue of the British Medical Journal:

OK fine, how about some examples?

There are countless other examples of common treatments and medical advice provided without good evidence: magnesium supplements for leg cramps; oxygen therapy for acute myocardial infarction; IV saline for certain kidney disease patients; the avoidance of peanuts to prevent allergies in children; many knee and spine operations; tight blood sugar control in critically ill patients; clear liquid diets before colonoscopies; bed rest to prevent preterm birth; the prescribing of unnecessary medications, to list just a few. In some of these cases, there is even evidence of harm.

Hmmm. My doctor told me to take magnesium supplements for leg cramps. Maybe I should save myself a few bucks and stop.

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If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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