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SUNY Downstate Medical Research Library of Brooklyn: Evidence-Based Medicine Course

Definition of Evidence-Based Medicine

Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) can be defined as the integration of individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research (Richard Sinert, unpublished lecture). The fear on the part of many clinicians that their judgment is nullified by "practicing medicine by Medline search" is reduced by the fact that clinical expertise still plays a large part in any decision made on treatment, diagnosis, screening, etc. The fear on the part of many patients that clinicians are just making a guess and hoping for the best is nullified by reliance on strictly codified criteria of what constitutes good evidence and how to find it.

The Need for EBM

In the years after you graduate, two things will happen: 

  1. Your memory of what you learned in medical school will lose its freshness. 
  2. New treatment methods will be found that they never taught you about in school because they didn't exist. 

If you are to remain a good doctor, or become a better one, you need to stay on top of new developments as they occur. Evidence Based Medicine provides you with the tools you need to find important new medical research quickly and easily, and to work out its implications for your practice.

The Benefits of EBM

  1. The total amount of knowledge out there is far greater and often more reliable than the clinical experience of one physician or even a group of experts. You no longer need to read through masses of journals in order to take advantage of it.   It is no longer your job to know everything, even in your chosen specialty. It IS your job to be able to find the information as and when you and your patients need it. 
  2. A detailed and exact knowledge of the outcomes of different interventions, derived from the research, can often save lives.