The British Medical Journal's great blogger Richard Lehman has published the following Ten Commandments for excellent clinical practice. These are great rules of thumb for any savvy health care practitioner--but they do require that wee bit of extra work to truly understand the statistics behind the medical literature.
(Hat tip to Steve Balt, MD, for sending me the link).
The New Therapeutics: Ten Commandments
- Thou shalt treat according to level of risk rather than level of risk factor.
- Thou shalt exercise caution when adding drugs to existing polypharmacy.
- Thou shalt consider benefits of drugs as proven only by hard endpoint studies.
- Thou shalt not bow down to surrogate endpoints, for these are but graven images.
- Thou shalt not worship Treatment Targets, for these are but the creations of Committees.
- Thou shalt apply a pinch of salt to Relative Risk Reductions, regardless of P values, for the population of their provenance may bear little relationship to thy daily clientele.
- Thou shalt honour the Numbers Needed to Treat, for therein rest the clues to patient-relevant information and to treatment costs.
- Thou shalt not see detailmen, nor covet an Educational Symposium in a luxury setting.
- Thou shalt share decisions on treatment options with the patient in the light of estimates of the individual’s likely risks and benefits.
- Honour the elderly patient, for although this is where the greatest levels of risk reside, so do the greatest hazards of many treatments.