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Multidisciplinary team meetings encourage overtreatment

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4630 (Published 16 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4630
  1. Franz Eigenmann, consultant gastroenterologist, Kantonsspital, 5400 Baden, Switzerland
  1. franz.eigenmann{at}ksb.ch

Reliance on these meetings, encouraged in guidelines, may lead to suboptimal decisions, and they should always include an advocate of the patient, writes Franz Eigenmann

In oncology, multidisciplinary team meetings or “tumour boards” are held to review cases of patients with cancer and to make decisions about treatment. A typical meeting might include medical oncologists, radiotherapists, surgeons, pathologists, and representatives of other medical specialties depending on the type of tumour, together with several junior doctors.

When I first attended these meetings 25 years ago, I was enthusiastic about their value. Discussing difficult cases in this way was helpful and offered some protection against the ad hoc decision making that can occur in medicine.

But the situation has changed. Today, the general feeling …

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