Evidence-based medicine? Patient case studies in English surgical treatises, 1660–1700

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The implications of the presence of case information included in English surgical treatises published from 1660 to 1700 are discussed. While such casework has been frequently examined and cited, the phenomenon of including case information in treatises has yet to be studied in any depth. The context, presentation and origins of the case information are discussed, and the reasons behind the inclusion of casework are explored in terms of “blame-narratives”, teaching models and evidence-based medicine. It was found that, while the reasons behind the inclusion of case information varied, English surgeons practised evidence-based medicine. This finding is significant, as it proposes that evidence-based medicine was practised a century earlier than—and across the Channel from—its supposed first emergence in modern medical practice.

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