The danger of following custom

Dramatic results indicate that a procedure considered routine in heart patient care is much more likely to kill the patient whose pain it’s supposed to be relieving. For a hundred years morphine has been recommended as an option to relieve chest pain associated with heart failure. Duke University scientists decided to test it against nitroglycerin in recent research funded by a pharmaceutical company.

Results ere surprising: Morphine to relieve severe chest pain associated with the non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndrome may increase the risk of death by nearly 50%.

Well, just because the pharma company wants to find corroborating evidence that its product(s) will do the job, doesn’t mean that we can’t be grateful that the research revealed that, like snake oil of the 1800s and leeches of earlier decades, somebody in a white coat saying “let’s do this” doesn’t make it right.

How very important it is to teach our children to question authority. Uncomfortable, perhaps. Tough sometimes? Absolutely. Worth it? Unquestionably.