Thursday, July 22, 2010

ob/gyn: "Fetal heart monitoring is an appallingly poor test."

This story in The Philadelphia Inquirer asks a good question...
Why do we use fetal heart monitors when they do not lead to improved outcomes?

"A test leading to an unnecessary major abdominal operation in more than 99.5 percent of cases should be regarded by the medical community as absurd at best," wrote Steven Clark and Gary Hankins in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "Electronic fetal heart rate monitoring has probably done more harm than good."
Why do doctors cling to continuous fetal heart monitoring? An obstetrician will most likely point to the fear of being sued, but the complete answer is more complex. Our medical culture prizes technology and tests, even if they don't work and can cause harm.

"It's our bias that anything that can be quantified is an improvement," said H. Gilbert Welch, a professor at Dartmouth Medical School whose research focuses on harm caused by screening and over-diagnosis.
Alex Friedman is a fellow in maternal-fetal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Read the full story by Dr. Friedman in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

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