In a new study, researchers have identified nearly 400 established medical practices that are ineffective.
The team hopes their findings can encourage the de-adoption of these practices (or medical reversals) and make patient care more efficient and cost-effective.
Medical reversals are practices that have been found to be no better than prior or lesser standards of care. But it can be difficult to identify these practices.
In the study, the team aimed to provide a large and comprehensive list for clinicians and researchers and to guide practice.
They conducted an analysis of research published over 15 years in three leading general medical journals.
Their analysis revealed 396 medical reversals from 3,000 articles.
Heart disease was the most commonly represented medical category among the reversals (20%), followed by public health/preventive medicine (12%) and critical care (11%).
In terms of the type of intervention, medication was the most common (33%), followed by a procedure (20%) and vitamins and/or supplements (13%).
The team explains that once an ineffective practice is established, it may be difficult to convince practitioners to abandon its use.
By testing novel treatments rigorously before they become widespread, it is possible to reduce the number of reversals in practice and prevent unnecessary harm to patients.
The team hopes their results can serve as a starting point for researchers, policymakers, and payers who wish to have a list of practices that likely offer no net benefit to use in future work.
The lead author of the study is Diana Herrera-Perez, Research Assistant at the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).
The new clinical studies are published across three top medical journals. The review of the studies is published in eLife.
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