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12-06-2011 | Article

Are you ready for change?

It is amazing how medical knowledge and technology advances at such a rapid rate. Not only does our body of knowledge grow at incredible speed but it also sometimes provides evidence that contradicts previously accepted dogma.

One such contradiction resulted in recent changes to advice for additional contraceptive precautions when antibiotics are co-prescribed with the oral contraceptive pill. The new advice is based on findings that antibiotics do not affect the contraceptive effectiveness of the combined oral contraceptive pill (click here). Specifically, the guidance "no longer advises that additional precautions are required when using combined hormonal contraception with antibiotics that are not enzyme inducers".

I can give several other examples, and not just restricted to drugs. Recently, as reported in the univadis GP News service, an algorithm that helps to predict future stroke risk had its credibility called into question (click here).

Of course, all independent research constantly looks to verify current knowledge as well as update it, and we need well-funded research organisations and people to continue such work and transfer it to the frontline.

Furthermore, research should not just involve a small community of workers. All clinicians can contribute towards the research effort. It could be something as simple as filling out a form about a patient or incident, or, with the patient's consent, allowing research workers to access a specific piece of information.

Even when a new finding has a proven, reliable evidence base, it is not always easily put into practice, especially when the new evidence contradicts the old way of doing things. This calls for flexibility and intellectual curiosity, as well as the ability to change and move with the times. As the pace of research and learning continues to hasten, we are going to see more changes in our everyday practice. We live in interesting times, but are you ready for change?

Best wishes,

Harry

Dr Harry Brown, editor-in-chief univadis

By Dr Harry Brown