A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that there are still places where we could use a little more knowledge, says Yale cardiologist Harlan Krumholz in Forbes. The study compares different ways of using diuretics to treat patients with heart failure, but what it really shows, Krumholz says, is the need for more comparative effectiveness research. Heart failure is not a new condition, and diuretics are not a new drug, so why is it — 45 years after the pills were invented — that doctors still don't know how to use them, he asks. "This gap in knowledge is what comparative effectiveness studies are intended to address," Krumholz says. "Our dire need is to illuminate the many areas of darkness that still exist in medicine, where we are practicing based on our intuition and knowledge of basic biology — but with little understanding of the benefits and risks of alternative approaches." Researchers need to do more studies like the one in NEJM, he adds, so that it doesn't take 50 years for medicine to learn how to most effectively use a good drug.
Mind the Knowledge Gap
Mar 04, 2011