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Proponents of clinical guidelines produced in a process called Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) claim their method relies on “objective” scientific evidence coming from well designed and conducted research. This sounds good, but neuroendocrinologist Hermann W. Borg, MD writes in the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons that the objectivity of EBM is dubious as its final product of writing clinical guidelines is in fact a result of consensus between variously biased and opinioned experts. To make his point, Borg draws some compelling comparisons to a process used in medicine in Prussia during the era of the Enlightenment. Consensus is the basis of politics not science, he points out. The stated goals of the Prussian medical system appeared to be noble and benevolent, as do those of EBM, but in both schemes the decision-making process is being outsourced. It is removed from the individual patient-physician interaction. The system in Prussia during the Enlightenment had the effect of delaying the German renaissance in medicine until the beginning of the 20th century, Borg explains.

“Ordinary medical orthodoxy and peer pressure can have similar deleterious effects, even without committees writing ‘evidence-based’ guidelines,” Borg points out. He gives two classic examples. Viennese physician Semmelweis was criticized and rejected by his peers in 1847 for drawing a connection between the washing of hands by physicians before surgery and reduction of maternal fatalities following childbirth, in spite of the fact his practice reduced mortality rates from 30 percent to 1 percent. In another more recent example, Australian physicians Marshall and Warren showed that Helicobacter pylori is the cause of most peptic ulcers, but they were not believed because the medical books said bacteria could not survive in the stomach. Their evidence finally gained acceptance by the medical community and they were awarded the Nobel prize in 2005.

Borg’s cautions regarding the danger of EBM are worth a close look. History has already shown the Prussian medical system failed, but what the historical outlook on EBM for our current medical system will be remains to be seen, Borg says.

States play a key role in creating diversity and organic options in agriculture. Organic Trade Association executive Laura Batcha speaking at an event to discuss key national agricultural policy issues stressed the need to meet the demand for organic food because the current demand for organic food exceeds its production, requiring the importation of organic products into the U.S.

President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Scott Enright, declared organic farmers and ranchers are a critical component to the story of agriculture and feeding our growing population. Organic is thriving and is an increasingly important part of this country’s agriculture, providing $39 billion to the national economy.

Some key issues discussed at the conference included implementing new rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act, improving and maintaining pollinator health, increasing the number of organic farmers in the United States and the organic supply, and developing organic-compliant tools for devastating diseases and invasive species, which would benefit both organic and conventional agriculture.

New Canadian cancer research shows promise for developing a vaccine that could stop cancer from spreading after surgery. Surgery to remove cancer tumors can lower a patient’s immunity and increase the likelihood the cancer will spread. Currently there is nothing being done routinely to boost a patient’s immune system to prevent the cancer from spreading. The new vaccine contains oncolytic (cancer-killing) viruses. The intent of this type of vaccine is to outsmart the cancer cells, which often trick the immune system and escape detection. Oncolytic viruses are designed to seek out and destroy cancer cells while leaving normal cells intact.

It is hoped the research will lead to new therapies within 5 years.

Medscape’s newly released “Women as Physician Leaders” report uncovered attitudes that distinguish female doctors who successfully rise to positions of authority and commitment to effecting change in leadership positions. Female doctors in leadership roles reported greater happiness in their work than those in non-leadership roles. The biggest difference between the two groups was the degree to which they personally value and desire a leadership role. The vast majority of leaders considered their position personally important, while only a minority of non-leaders viewed securing a leadership role as a personal priority.

The data supports the idea that a high percentage of women physicians retain their ambition to make a big difference and to have influence beyond their immediate work place or immediate work with patients. Women have represented about half of medical school entering classes for 15 years now, yet they are still not similarly represented in middle-level leadership positions.

The Center for Disease Control reports more than 2.5 million concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI) emergency visits every year. A new study, “Near-infrared photonic energy penetration: Can infrared phototherapy effectively reach the human brain?” revealed that the use of high-power near-infrared light (NIR) is able to penetrate skin and skull to effectively regenerate damaged brain cells. Standard low-power NIR does not penetrate far enough to be able to reach the most common areas of injury, such as the bottom of the frontal lobes and temporal lobes. The specific wavelengths, power wattage, and duration of the application of therapy were all significant in this medical paradigm shift in the treatment of TBI.


Other articles of interest in this Fall 2015 TMIS eNewsletter:

* Biometric wristbands may soon be available to “see inside” bodies of people with autism and predict behavior change.

* A cooperative award provides R&D funding to advance breakthrough molten salt technology to lower cost of 24-hour Concentrating Solar Power.

* Local government managers organization will establish a prominent national recognition program to energize local solar marketplaces.

* Author and therapist Debra M. Roberts gives couples and other significant relationships the simple tools they need to create better relationships with “The Relationship Protocol.”


I am grateful to be in a collaborative business with many talented and skilled professionals. Additional feedback and recommendations for our products and services at TM Information Services are always welcome.

- Mary Michele McLaughlin

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