Views & Reviews From the Frontline

Bad medicine: monitoring patients’ drugs

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 24 September 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5779
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. destwo{at}

Once when I worked on a long stay ward for elderly people the consultant demanded that blood be taken every week from all patients for monitoring tests. “Why?” I asked. Eyes narrowed. “Because I say so.” So I did as I was told.

But evidence based medicine has encouraged questioning, and evidence has become a weapon to wield against deference and the dogma of the acerbic expert. Today, reviewing patients and monitoring drugs is an ever increasing part of our medical work. But are these reviews actually necessary, and at what interval?

Regular reviews are ingrained in …

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