Monday, February 6, 2012

Evidence Based? What Evidence?

Lots of talk these days about "evidence based medicine."

I think most people are completely unaware that so much of what has been taught for years and years really isn't based on evidence.  They get confused when CPR changes, and hang onto ideas they were exposed to as kids (but probably have never done) like using a razor blade to cut a "v" over a snake bite, and sucking out the venom.

I think it's great that more and more studies are being done, trying to find out whether our protocols really help or not. It's tricky, though. Studies vary greatly in how well they are designed, let alone carried out. It's very easy to design a study that doesn't really show what you intend for it to show, to fail to take into account all the variables.

Even so, some studies are decent, and it's good to look at them, and to learn from them. Around here, at least, and probably elsewhere, protocol changes are slow to happen, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be out there learning about the latest information, so that we're able to run with them when we get them.

I was looking for something else entirely this morning, when I came across an interesting resource that I had never heard about before. It is a website called "EMS Evidence Based Protocols" from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  It is a database that includes links to research papers (mostly through PubMed or Medline), and then a sample protocol based on that research, for a variety of conditions and situations.

The University also has a program to teach Paramedics how to evaluate research, which is interesting. They offer to teach that course at conferences, and I wish someone would take advantage of that offer.

It's a pretty interesting website, and well worth exploring if you're interested in looking at research. I wish it had more, and hope they continue to add to it. For now, it's the easiest access I have to looking at research, except for some of the things that are more "in the news" like CPR changes. I can only access the abstracts, but I think it may be possible to get the entire papers, if you really wanted to.

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