>Medical Literature Rant

>All throughout medical school, we have had lectures on how to read scientific journals and question the validity, and applicability of a research paper. We’ve been given countless examples of bad study design and conclusions that are not really supported by the data.

So my question is, why is this being published in the first place?

Why does it fall on me, a person who is NOT an expert in data analysis and statistics, to look at your study and determine if it holds water or not. Why can’t you take responsibility and design a careful protocol and methods, one that will stand up to scrutiny. And why the hell are the reviewers letting this stuff slide? Asking me to be judge and jury of scientific literature would be asking a lay person to read webMD and then manage an ICU patient. As a clinician and not a scientist, I know a little bit about it, but not enough to be an effective judge.

Who am I supposed to trust and believe when we see and hear that pharma has a big influence in publications, that craptacular studies get published only because they have a certain author attached to them, that good science only gets published in obscure journals, that sexy sells, even in medical literature!

And you know what else is annoying, when someone tells you not to trust “conglomerate” sites like uptodate. Really? But your suggestion of going to the primary literature seems a whole hell of a lot riskier if you ask me. At least on uptodate they reference 50 odd studies usually, so the impact of some erronious study is going to be washed out a bit.

Primary literature in general seems like a poor way to learn in the future. Reading a 10 page paper to walk away with X is more effective than Y seems like an ineffective use of time. If there was responsible publishing going on, I could just read that one line at the end and know that X is better.

So what am I supposed to make of all this? Where can one turn to get reliable information from? But also in a timely and accessible manner? In a way that is retain-able and recallable? I don’t know if an answer exists.


About ER Jedi

I’m a resident doctor in Emergency Medicine and I’ve learned during the past few years that 1) I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences 2) I have a very bad short-term memory. So this blog is just a place for me to write about some of these experiences, from the ER, medical school, the wards and life in general. At least that way I’ll have some idea as to where I’ve been all this time. A scrap-book of sorts, a place to vent, organize some clinical tools and post a few good songs I’ve heard along the way.

Posted on March 8, 2011, in Emergency Medicine. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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