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Meta-Analysis often a short cut to original work in medical literature

Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2018 by Morgan Cartwright

Often in medical negligence cases, jurors want to know where the “standard of care” comes from, or if an expert witness offers an opinion, is it consistent with what the medical literature says on the topic.

Medical literature, then, is important both in clinical practice (improving the care provided to patients in all 50 states) and in the medical-legal field (helping jurors understand key concepts at issue in cases).

Historically, literature in medical journals were based on medical research that was derived from large studies and trials that physicians conducted on a diverse patient population. However, in recent years, with the increase in massive data mining technology, the articles published in medical journals have started to change, in part. In many medical journals nowadays, you will often find a huge assortment of articles that have been created not by a person, but predominately by a computer program.

As Dr. Milton Packer explains, he has reviewed many journal articles that compile meta-analysis from other studies and get computer-generated results. He explains that in many instances, the authors of these meta-analysis articles do not do any of their own research, but have computers compare other articles and insert data from other articles to come to conclusions. However, these conclusions may not actually be warranted based on the computer-generated analysis.

Unfortunately, these articles are becoming more common. The biggest problem with such articles is that they lack the traditional level of accuracy. In some instances, doctors pay individuals to create and even write these articles. As a result, there are a large number of articles published each year that contain conclusions based on insufficient data, clinically incorrect premises, and trials that are not statistically significant.

We can only hope that providers can start to realize that this type of medical literature does not advance the field of medicine and can actually undermine the important original literature.

For more on this subject read here:

Do Medical Journals Publish Original Work Anymore?

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