David SackettBMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h2639 (Published 14 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2639
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Richard Smith has written a most interesting obituary of Dave Sackett, whom I first met in 1995 at his office at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. I was Publishing Director for Churchill Livingstone, and had made the appointment direct with him via email, of which he was a prolific user and early adopter. Sackett sat at a very large screen, talking to me and breaking off from time to time to take part in the EBM email discussion group which he had started, though for reasons of speed he never bothered with capitals!
I was there to ask him to write a practical handbook for clinicians and students on evidence-based medicine (EBM). After some searching questions, he readily agreed and immediately summoned William Rosenberg, then a clinical tutor in the department, and announced to him that they would be working together on the book. Brian Haynes from McMaster University, Canada, and Scott Richardson from University of Rochester, USA, also joined the authorship team, and the book was published in 1997 as Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach EBM. The first print-run was 2500, and we knew we had a success on our hands when it sold out in a week. The first edition went on to sell 40,000 copies, and was quickly followed by a second in 2000, this time with an accompanying CD-ROM (remember those?). Now in its 4th edition, it has sold some 150,000 copies in English, and has been translated into several other languages.
The book did much to help Dave Sackett to spread his message about EBM, and in turn his many speaking engagements helped to sell it widely. With EBM now a mainstream part of the medical curriculum, this book has perhaps now served its main purpose, but its approachable, enthusiastic and at times irreverent style has helped many clinicians and students to understand - and even enjoy - this important subject.
Competing interests: No competing interests