When we visit our doctor or go into hospital, we have faith in the knowledge that the healthcare professionals involved are treating us according to proven scientific methods, otherwise known as evidence-based medicine (EBM). This means they’re prescribing drugs or selecting treatment methods that have proven successful in clinical research. Although the term ‘evidence-based medicine’ only dates back to the early 1990s, the concept itself is much older. Controlled trials were routinely being conducted as early as the 1940s, and clinical knowledge and expertise was already being disseminated in medical journals and textbooks long before that. (In fact, the oldest medical journal still running today, The New England Journal of Medicine, was founded in 1812. Even older, the first official clinical trial was conducted in 1747, into the treatment of scurvy in sailors.)
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