Sunday, November 1, 2015

Book Review: ‘Ending Medical Reversal’ Laments Flip-Flopping - The New York Times

"Ending Medical Reversal" is a subtly subversive book in need of a considerably snappier title. "OOPS!" perhaps, or "Are You Kidding Me?"

This last was the reaction of a diabetic patient described by the authors who, after years spent dutifully following the most spartan of diets in order to keep his blood sugar in check, just learned he needn't have bothered. The goal his doctor (and doctors everywhere) were routinely setting for their patients had just been proven by a new study to be far too stringent.

All that broiled fish, all those unbuttered green beans, all that willpower, all for nothing. Oops.

This kind of medical whiplash is increasingly common and every bit as scary and damaging as the physical kind. What was good for you yesterday is useless or even bad for you today (and may be good for you again tomorrow; who knows). Medical gospel is rewritten daily on the evening news.

The incremental progress of ordinary science is one thing, as individual treatments are progressively replaced by better variants. We all happily accept that kind of revision. But medical reversal, the authors' sober term for sudden flip-flops in standards of care, unnerves and demoralizes everyone, doctors no less than their patients.

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