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Reversal of Medical Practices Common Over Past Decade

Over 40 percent of studies that tested current practice led to medical reversal

TUESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- Over 100 contemporary medical practices have subsequently been reversed over the last 10 years, according to a review published online July 22 in Mayo Clinical Proceedings.

Vinay Prasad, M.D., from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues reviewed 1,344 original articles published from 2001 to 2010 in the New England Journal of Medicine relating to a medical practice. Articles were classified as replacement (new practice surpassing standard of care); back to the drawing board (new practice is no better than standard of care); reaffirmation of current practice; or reversal of current practice.

The researchers found that 73 percent of articles examined a new medical practice, while 27 percent assessed an established practice. Positive findings were observed in 70.5 articles and negative conclusions were seen in 29.5 percent. A replacement medical practice was addressed in 756 articles, 165 were back to the drawing board, 146 were medical reversals, 138 were reaffirmations, and 139 were inconclusive. Of the 363 articles that assessed the standard of care, 40.2 percent (146 articles) reversed the practice and 38.0 percent (138 articles) reaffirmed it.

"The reversal of established medical practice is common and occurs across all classes of medical practice," the authors write. "This investigation sheds light on low-value practices and patterns of medical research."

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