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Questioning clinical `habits' that pose potential threat to patients

International experts in Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) delivered an interactive workshop to more than 30 Queensland medical practitioners at Bond University recently.

Bond University’s Professor Chris Del Mar and Professor Mieke van Driel, and Oxford University’s Professor Paul Glasziou (who will join Bond University in July) are among the internationally published academics who ran the workshop.

An EBM practitioner, Professor Del Mar says the interactive workshop was about helping clinicians understand ways to make better clinical decisions, or in short, how to ensure they’re getting the right treatment to the right people.

“The medical community has become over-focussed on the mechanism of disease,” Professor Del Mar said. “Often we think we understand the effects of a disease or illness and deliver the routine treatment without asking ‘is there a better way?’

“Evidence-Based Medicine is about challenging the clinical habits we’re all in and checking the empirical evidence about whether we’re treating our patients in the best possible way.

“Failing to ask this question can mean we end up doing treatments that we shouldn't because they aren't helpful, or, worse, harmful, and neglecting to do the things we should.

“For instance, clinicians have long accepted counselling as the preferred treatment in preventing post-traumatic stress disorder, but when tested in randomised trial, patients who received counselling in fact did worse that those who did not,” he said.

Professor Del Mar says every area of clinical care stands to benefit from the adoption of EBM practice.

“We should be doing more of it,” he said. “Our patients would get better quicker and harmed less. Many of our younger doctors and medical students are being taught this early in their training, but it poses more of a challenge for older clinicians who weren’t.”

“Practising Evidence-Based Medicine also encourages more research – if you don’t find the answers you’re looking for, that helps set a research agenda for the future,” Professor Del Mar said.

Participants at the workshop along with Professors Chris Del Mar, Paul Glasziou and Mieke Van Driel, were Dr Gerben Keijzers, also from Bond University, Dr Tammy Hoffmann from the University of Queensland and Dr Ian Scott from the PA Hospital in Brisbane.

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