From time to time, medical experts reverse course on certain practices and procedures when science dictates a change in the standard of care. One classic example of a “reversal” is when hormone therapy for menopausal women came to a screeching halt when so many women developed blood clots, stroke, and breast and uterine cancers.

In an attempt to determine the overall effectiveness of our medical care, the Mayo Clinic tracked the frequency of these medical reversals over the past decade and published a report in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, August 2013.1

The results are discussed by lead researcher Dr. Vinay Prasad in the featured video. Prasad and his team found that reversals are common across all classes of medical practice, and a significant proportion of medical treatments offer no benefit at all.

In fact, they found 146 reversals of previously established practices, treatments and procedures over the past 10 years. Many new medical treatments gain popularity over older standards of care due to clever marketing more than solid science.

Conflicts of interest are rampant in medical research. Shiny new medical treatments nearly always come with hefty price tags, which helps drive up the already astronomical cost of health care in this country. In addition to the end of routine hormone therapy for menopausal women, you will probably recall the following policy reversals over the past decade:

Read This Before You Visit a Doctor, 3/19/14

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