From the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine (Drs Hubbs and Melmon), Lane Medical Library (Mr Rindfleisch), Office of Postgraduate Medical Education (Drs Godin and Melmon), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif.
The continually changing and expanding body of medical information is
increasingly difficult to master. In 1985, Covell and colleagues1
documented the obstacles physicians face using books and print media as sources
of information in practice. Thirteen years later, there are 9.2 million MEDLINE
citations with approximately 31000 more added each month.2
Combined with the psychological, sociological, and administrative complexities
of medical practice, this rapid proliferation of information pressures physicians
to make decisions at the margin of what they remember and know. Compounding
this problem, changes in health care delivery require practitioners to make
more important and complex decisions in less time. Physicians' trouble in
applying current health care evidence effectively3,4
will almost certainly worsen given these trends. Weed5
calls this failure to use current health care evidence in the practice of
medicine "avoidable ignorance."
Hubbs PR, Rindfleisch TC, Godin P, Melmon KL. Medical Information on the Internet. JAMA. 1998;280(15):1363. doi:10.1001/jama.280.15.1363