Medicine is impossible. Really. The amount of information that flows out the interwebs is amazing and the time to absorb it is comparatively tiny.
If you work, sleep and have a family, once those responsibilities are complete there is remarkably little time to keep up with the primary literature. I have made two of my hobbies (blogging and podcasting) dovetail with my professional need to keep up to date, but most health care providers lack the DSM-4 diagnoses to consistently keep up.
So we all rely on short cuts. People rely on me to put new infectious disease information into context and there are those I rely upon to help me understand information both in my specialty and in fields that are unrelated to ID.
Up and down the medical hierarchies we trust that others are doing their best to understand the too numerous to count aspects of medicine that no single person could ever comprehend.
If I want to know about the state of the art on the treatment of atypical mycobacterium or how best to treat Waldenströms or who knows the most about diagnosing sarcoid, there is always someone who can distill their expertise on a topic to the benefit of the patient and my knowledge.
Trusting others is the biggest shortcut we routinely take in medicine to wade through the Brogdignagian amounts of information that flood into medical practice. We have to trust other clinicians, the researchers and the journals that all the information is gathered and interpreted honestly and accurately. (more…)