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How much can medical research studies be trusted?

Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or incorrect. So why are doctors still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice?

David H. Freedman

by David H Freedman of The Atlantic

IN 2001, RUMOURS WERE CIRCULATING IN Greek hospitals that surgery residents, eager to rack up scalpel time, were falsely diagnosing hapless Albanian immigrants with appendicitis. At the University of Ioannina medical school’s teaching hospital, a newly minted doctor named Athina Tatsioni was discussing the rumours with colleagues when a professor who had overheard asked her if she’d like to try to prove whether they were true—he seemed to be almost daring her.

She accepted the challenge and, with the professor’s and other colleagues’ help, eventually produced a formal study showing that, for whatever reason, the appendices removed from patients with Albanian names in six Greek hospitals were more than three times as likely to be perfectly healthy as those removed from patients with Greek names.

“It was hard to find a journal willing to publish it, but we did,” recalls Tatsioni. “I also discovered that I really liked research.” Good thing, because the study had actually been a sort of audition. The professor, it turned out, had been putting together a team of exceptionally brash and curious young clinicians and Ph.D.s to join him in tackling an unusual and controversial agenda.

Read the article in full on The Atlantic >

About the author:

David H. Freedman

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