The innovative "Phoenix" database system of the Drug Commission of the German Medical Profession (AkdA) permits rapid access to data on adverse drug reactions. It enables the user to conduct searches covering a wide variety of questions within a short period of time. No one needs to be an "expert" to extract scientific knowledge from a database that currently already contains some 106,000 reports on adverse drug reactions. While our traditional apprenticeship model of physician training has served us well, an adaptation will be required for the new millennium. New tools are needed to allocate the available resources. Clinical proposals of experts or opinion leaders, guidelines, and highly graded clinical studies, like the use of clinical databases may help to improve safety and efficacy of drug administration. Evidence-based critical care medicine is therefore a potential tool for improving the effectiveness of drug therapy and for the patient's outcome. Over and above, the Phoenix database might be interpreted as an initiative instrument, which is easy to use and contributes to highlight the determinants of clinical decisions.