Children's Hospital Heart Center, Health Sciences Center, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.
The use of evidence to achieve sound medical diagnoses and optimal treatment plans is considered a standard of practice for healthcare providers. Indeed, failure to do so is prima facie evidence of malpractice. Health and medical care managers have begun espousing a similar philosophy: to make decisions that are data-driven rather than based on logic, intuition, personal preference, or last experience. Unfortunately, regulatory policies and practices in patient care are not always founded upon strong evidence. As a result, unintended consequences often surface after the passage of legislation or the adoption of policies by nongovernmental entities. These dysfunctions might be avoided if policymakers embraced evidence-based protocols commonly found throughout medicine and its management. This paper reviews the dilemmas that unfold when policy is formed without giving sufficient attention, in advance, to "hard" evidence.