Doctors talk about guesswork in prescribing

In a fictional conversation between two doctors, a general practitioner makes the following point: ‘Tons of what we do is guesswork and I don’t think that you or I feel too comfortable with that. The only way to find out if something works is a proper trial, but the hoops are huge. So what do we do? We do what we fancy. And I’m sure some of the time it’s fine – clinical experience and all that. Maybe the rest of the time we’re just as likely to be getting it wrong as right, but because whatever we’re doing isn’t called a trial, no one regulates it and none of us learn from it’.

Adapted from Petit-Zeman S. Doctor, what’s wrong? Making the NHS human again. London: Routledge, 2005, pp79-80.