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Study Finds Nearly 400 Medical Devices, Procedures And Practices That Are Ineffective

When a medical treatment, device or procedure is no better than previous or lesser alternatives, it's deemed a 'medical reversal'. These discredited practices are a major barrier to better and cheaper healthcare, but actually identifying them is surprisingly difficult and rarely done.

A recent study, designed to create a more comprehensive list, has unearthed nearly 400 established treatments, devices and procedures that fit this bill.

"We hope our broad results may serve as a starting point for researchers, policy makers and payers who wish to have a list of practices that likely offer no net benefit to use in future work," says hematologist-oncologist Vinay Prasad from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), who helped coin the term 'medical reversal'.

The findings are based on more than 15 years of randomised controlled trials, a type of research that aims to reduce bias when testing new treatments. Across 3,000 articles in three leading medical journals from the UK and the US, the authors found 396 reversals.