Can This Treatment Help Me? There’s a Statistic for That –

Who over the age of 65 doesn’t take an aspirin a day? For every medical intervention practitioners look at a cost/benefit analysis. Sometimes it’s a big deal–we surgically remove the tumor on your spine at great risk to your life and mobility, but there is a strong possibility of removing and curing your cancer–that benefit outweighs the risk. Sometimes it’s not. Take some calcium supplements. They might help but they probably won’t hurt. Just whatever!

Practitioners make recommendations based on studies and evidence which are analyzed using statistical methods. We know that the average person has no concept of what statistical chance actually means. We’re just hairless apes, y’all. The same is true for docs. And this nurse.

This article illustrates beautifully what we are talking about when we talk about the metric commonly used in analyzing efficacy of treatment: N.N.T. or number to treat. Eat it up. I feel like I learned a thing today.


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