The Skeptical EP

The Blog Page of Robert Clare MD

Credit: Non-Sequitur by Wiley Miller

“Questioning medical dogma to improve the lives of patients.”

Skepticism, from the Greek word skepticos (to inquire), is not simply a noun but a process. Skeptics demand evidence before accepting claims of truth; they enjoy the process of inquiry and analysis. Unlike cynics who take a negative view of both the claims of others and the people making them, skeptics are perfectly happy to change their minds when better evidence comes along. For physicians, a questioning attitude is an essential component to decision-making. When faced with increasing pressure from administrators and pharmaceutical companies to “Show me the money!” the best counter from the physician is “Show me the evidence!” The purpose of this blog is to raise awareness through an inquiry of the best available medical knowledge, to foster discussion, and to challenge prevailing truths in order to improve the lives of patients everywhere.

Disclaimer: The opinions put forth in this blog are just that: opinions. They should not be used as a substitute for your own good sense or that of your doctor. Readers of this column do so at their own risk—this blog is not intended to treat or diagnose disease. Information contained here should be considered a “dietary supplement.” None of it is FDA approved. Mistakes in data interpretation are mine alone (I don’t claim to be a statistician), and you should assume that mistakes will occasionally be made. All personal patient information has been altered.

I’m skeptical about … pain scores


In 2001, a year after President Clinton signed into law a bill declaring 2001-2010 to be the “Decade of Pain Control and Research,” JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) initiated standards mandating that all patients receive pain screening during their visit to accredited institutions. Pain was declared the “5th vital sign,” along with pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and temperature. Every ER in the nation now includes a pain assessment as part of its triage protocol, most commonly a 1-10 score for adults and a smiley/frowny face score for kids. Continue reading