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ARTICLE Evidence-Based Medicine

Health care should be based on the facts.

The British Medical Journal defines evidence-based medicine as “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.”* UnitedHealthcare believes promoting evidence-based medicine is an important step to improving the health care system.


Health care experts estimate that only 20% of medical practices are based on rigorous research evidence, according to a recent article in the journal Patient Care**. Further, medical practice not based on sound scientific evidence is linked to nearly one million medical errors each year, according to the Institute of Medicine.


CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Donald Berwick told Congress that more than 95% of medical errors are “system errors,” such as the 30% of children who receive excessive antibiotics for ear infections or the 20-50% of unnecessary surgical operations performed each year.


In response, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) assigned $50 million to patient safety research. Many health leaders have also urged hospitals to elevate and regulate the role of the medical librarian, the hospital’s information expert, to find and share the correct data.


The American Medical Association, the American Association of Health Plans, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality have set up a National Guideline Clearinghouse database of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the wider health care spectrum. Search the database at:


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