Evaluating the Medical Evidence for Quality Improvement
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Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine has had both its triumphs and its disasters regarding the dissemination of new interventions. Evidence-based medicine (EBM), the integration of clinical expertise, patient values, and best evidence for decision making in patient care, provides a blueprint for how to safely and effectively continue make headway in our rapidly changing field. The principles of EBM have been discussed in multiple articles and primers. EBM involves formulating the appropriate question, finding the evidence, appraising the evidence, and evaluating the clinician's performance in implementing these practices. At an institutional level, this type of thorough evidence review is critical to successful quality improvement projects, particularly if these projects hope to improve clinical outcome. On evaluation of best practice, one sees great variation in the implementation of practices that are strongly evidence based (increased use of antenatal steroids, decreased use of postnatal steroids), practices rich in evidence lacking certainty regarding the best approach (prophylactic indomethacin to prevent intraventricular hemorrhage), and widespread dissemination of practices that have little evidence to support their use (stabilization on high-frequency ventilation).
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