Policy Documents

Evidence-Based Medicine

Heartland Staff –
October 15, 2007

The relationship between doctors and their patients is very special. Patients trust their doctors to keep private their personal medical histories, diagnose conditions and prescribe medicines based on an astounding knowledge of biology and chemistry, and literally save lives on a daily basis.

Some policymakers, most with no background in medicine, seem to want to insert themselves between doctors and their patients. These policymakers claim “evidence-based medicine” (EBM) can reduce health care spending and ensure consistent, quality care. EBM asserts medical research published in peer-reviewed journals ought to overrule the medical judgments of individual doctors.

A new Research & Commentary collection from The Heartland Institute outlines the pitfalls of EBM. Inside you will learn:

  • A surprising amount of published medical research—“most” of it, according to one prominent researcher—is false;
  • EBM guidelines are drawn from large population averages and cannot reliably provide clarity regarding which treatments prove most beneficial for individual patients; and
  • EBM has been used in Europe as a gateway to expanding the role of government in health care by providing a seemingly objective basis for rationing care. It’s already starting to be used this way in the U.S., as illustrated in Medicare’s recent decision (now being challenged) to limit patients’ access to anemia drugs.