"'A patient comes in because he's in pain,' said Dr. Nelda Wray, a senior research scientist at the Methodist Institute for Technology in Houston. 'We see something in a scan and we assume causation. But we have no idea of the prevalence of the abnormality in routine populations.'"—Science Times/New York Times, 1209.08, "The Pain May Be Real, But the Scan Is Deceiving"
As I've said again and again (piggybacking on the "evidence-based medicine" "movement" championed by the likes of Michael Millenson and the peerless Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice), there's a lot that goes on in medicine, even in the most hallowed halls (especially in the most hallowed halls?), that has no basis in fact or hard evidence. This telling-frightening article is one more compelling example of medical witchcraft (sorry to use such strong language); and one more good reason to avoid hospitals whenever you can; and one more reason to question-the-living-bejesus out of any test the doc wants to perform; and one more reason to take charge of your own treatment—for God's sake, grow up, the guy in the white coat is flying blind half the time.
One growing response to the above, fostered by Web 2.0 and social networking, is patient involvement. BusinessWeek (12.15) offers "Can Patients Cure Healthcare?" Discussing websites such as PatientsLikeMe.com, sometimes collectively called "Health 2.0," the article explains that some groups of patients are going so far as doing their own clinical trials. Mounting health-establishment pushback is clear evidence that these increasingly informed patients, even when they get it wrong, are up to something good!