Monday, April 18, 2011
Control groups are for losers
That’s what I learned from today’s New York Times editorial. In their review of the two NEJM studies we covered last week (here and here), they describe the VA study as “broader” (true, if by broader they mean larger) and “possibly more rigorous” (untrue). They also point out that “if other hospitals could replicate the effort, thousands of patients might be saved from needless infections”. The editorial board at the NY Times should know that hospitals across the country are already saving thousands as MRSA HAI rates drop nationwide! And many of these hospitals are saving lives without also stimulating the economy by doing universal MRSA screening. A bundle with multiple interventions, one of which is unproven and hugely resource intensive, doesn’t seem in keeping with the spirit of health care reform. And sadly, determining the proper role of the most expensive element in the VA's MRSA bundle requires studies that use something we epidermatologists like to call a “control group”.