By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated Columnist
First Published in Print: 02/20/2011
FOR YEARS, I've been writing a book about medical practices that were later found to be wrongheaded, useless or dangerous. It's been a sobering and unsettling project, causing me to question the scientific foundation of my profession a few too many times.
But I am trying to how we doctors sometimes get it all so very wrong. How under our watch, enormous myths can sneak unnoticed into our clinical textbooks and remain there for decades.How our doctorly habits or routines sometimes bypass critical scrutiny and seamlessly morph into "standard medical practice." I am searching for instructive clues to these discomforting mysteries, keeping patients in center vision, hoping to help resolve what I can.
Preparing for this book, I have been collecting medical journal articles whose solid research findings blew some piece of conventional medical dogma out of the water and into oblivion. My collection is housed within a file cabinet labeled "Oops!" that expands at an ever-increasing rate. And today I added to that collection a study from last week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that upends thinking about a type of breast cancer surgery routinely performed on tens of thousands of women each year. (more…)