Listening to the Marketplace Morning Report on my way in to work the other morning, I heard an interesting tidbit on the problems of using techniques not validated with scientific evidence. In this case, they weren’t discussing evidence-based medicine but evidence-based crime lab forensics. Apparently many of the techniques in use at crime labs have never been validated scientifically and congress is convening hearings to explore if large numbers of people have been wrongly convicted using these techniques and what is to be done.
While this may seem too obvious a trap to hit us in healthcare, we have exactly this problem. Only, in healthcare, sometimes when the science is wrong, people die. Not usually, though. Most often, the un-validated technique is simply added onto otherwise effective treatments. Patients generally get better. Physicians feel that the technique is then proven. The system sucks up the costs again and again and again.
It’s good to know that healthcare isn’t alone in this issue. Hopefully, moving forward, scientists (and physicians) will start to work a little more… scientifically.