Tag: Evidence Based Medicine

Reflections on Evidence-based Medicine

It was really great to see the other residents, both hospital and community alike. Although by the end of a Friday afternoon it was tough to sit in one spot for 7-8 hours, there are many things to unpack and revisit throughout the residency year when it comes to appraising the literature, always having a critical lens, and (what I found to be an important talk) keeping your patient’s wishes in mind. So, how did I do on my goals?

Goal #1: Develop an efficient process for appraising a variety of literature, including RCTs, observational studies, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and guidelines. I’d like to believe I have achieved this in that I have a good foundation and framework for approaching a variety of literature. For all the “checklists” and “scores”, I don’t think I’ll be using them for every single study I come across, but they are good for keeping in mind what elements make up a quality study.
– For observational studies, I have the STROBE checklist
– For guidelines, I have the AGREE II scoresheet
– For meta-analyses, there is the PRISMA checklist and AMSTAR score. I liked AMSTAR because it is fast, and a quick hit on what “big-picture” things to look out for in a meta-analysis.

Goal #2: Develop a process to approaching clinical dilemmas and treatment choice with patients. Achieved. Dr. Slavik provided us the 10 step workflow to doing this. The main idea I got from this was to start big when explaining medication choice, such as:
Condition (what it is) –> Drug class options –> Individual drugs –> Tangible risks (don’t give an NNT) –> Tangible benefits –> side effects, cost, other factors

Overall, the surprising thing I learned during this week was that meta-analyses are not as necessarily bulletproof as I’d like to believe. I think during undergrad, it was drilled into our heads that RCTs have a lot of areas where investigators can improve on, but I was part of a large group of my colleagues who imagined that as we were told that meta-analyses are at the “top of the evidence food chain”, they have to be of a higher quality.

Another thing that made me reflect and give me more pause was that certain research questions may be better answered by a cohort or case-control study, such as in the cases of rare adverse events, hypothesis-generating studies, or ones where larger studies may be impractical or too expensive.

Goals and Objectives: Evidence-based Medicine Rotation

Goal #1: Develop an efficient process for appraising a variety of literature, including RCTs, observational studies, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and guidelines.
Objectives to meet this goal:
– Remain engaged during the didactic sessions and ask questions of my colleagues and the facilitator where necessary
– Develop a “hit-list” of 3-5 elements to look for in a paper or guideline to determine whether the evidence is applicable to a patient under my care, and whether I should continue appraising a paper before moving on to the next one
– Develop a “hit-list” of 2-3 elements to look for bias or systematic weaknesses in a paper or guideline to efficiently triage papers for more extensive review

Goal #2: Develop a process to approaching clinical dilemmas and treatment choice with patients.
Objectives to meet this goal:
– Develop an approach to elucidating patient values within the first 2 minutes of a patient interaction
– Endeavour to use zero medical jargon during each patient interaction, and to explain medical jargon not previously clarified
– Present at least 2 alternatives and 2 pros and cons for each treatment option, and develop a process to develop these pros and cons based on patient values

QTc prolongation + Torsades de Pointes risk stratification and management

For this Nugget of Knowledge, I put several tags on it because I think I will be referring to it on multiple rotations…I just picked the ones that I suspect it will come in most handy.

Probably not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about drug distribution, but always a thing to keep in mind on a dispensary shift if a patient is on a bunch of QT prolonging drugs – how do you know who is at higher risk than another? Today I attended a CSHP webinar on this very topic; here are some pearls I picked up:

FDA and Health Canada definition of a prolonged QTc
>500 ms OR >60 ms above baseline

Beware of the hypos – K, Mg, and Ca

Risk stratification tool #1 – Tisdale et al – validated in cardiac critical care units
– Assigns varying point values to different risk factors
– Offending DRUGS are given more weight than say, hypokalemia
– Great positive predictive value for high risk individuals
– They did not routinely measure magnesium levels
– However, only predicts risk of prolonged QT, NOT TdP or any hard outcomes such as mortality.

Risk stratification tool #2 – Haugaa et al with the Mayo Clinic – not validated, but had patients across the board: peds, medicine, cardiology, ICU, you name it
– EQUAL weighing of risk factors
– Hard outcome: mortality
– Good predictive value of mortality for scores 4 or above
– ONLY valid for baseline QTc of 500 ms or greater

These tools are great for stratifying patients according to risk and will help me prioritize interventions. As always I would perform NESA on each offending drug (or each option to treat a condition) to see if it is worth the risk. Also, downloaded the CredibleMeds app onto my phone – a great tool to quickly look up rough risk levels for various medications to prolong the QT interval.