Stop me if you heard this one before...The time a journal club corrected the NEJM

Because of weird travel arrangements, I ended up bumming a ride home from the Michigan ACP with one of our general internal medicine faculty and her parents. The parents asked about my talk at Duke, which was the reason I was 200 miles from home without a ride. I started explaining Nephrology Social Media and NephJC. After listening for awhile the mother said, "Are you saying that what's in that magazine 'The New England Journal' is sometimes not true." I replied yes. And then explained that more often than wrong we need to interpret how we can use the lessons to take care of our patients.

But there was that one time the NEJM was wrong and an online journal club sniffed it out. This is a story you should keep in your frontal cortex for the next time someone questions the value of online journal clubs. 

The article was about decontaminating ICU patients with antimicrobial washcloths to prevent MRSA blood stream infections. The study was originally published with a NNT of 54. This calculation sailed through the NEJM peer review without being challenged and was only picked up in the Intensive Care Network journal club. The discussants couldn't make the NNT calculation work. Included in the discussion was one of the authors who was also flummoxed, contacted the NEJM and got the article corrected.

Journal Club 1, NEJM 0.

Screenshot 2017-10-23 22.25.14.png

Contemporary coverage of the story can be found at: