No Evidence Sometimes Needed To Adopt New Treatments; To Give Them Up Is Another Story

During the past decade, the New England Journal of Medicine twice published studies showing that in comparisons arthroscopic surgery and nothing were equally effective treatments for knee pain, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. "One of the paradoxes of modern medicine is a procedure can gain wide acceptance without good evidence of its effectiveness -- yet once widely adopted, numerous studies must be done to persuade doctors that the procedure doesn't work." That's a problem when it comes to efforts to use science to combat the steep growth of health costs. "The hope is that comparative-effectiveness research can reduce spending on treatments that are ineffective or no more effective than less expensive alternatives, and, in some cases, may actually be harmful." But, only if the research finds acceptance (Bolton, 9/26).

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