As defined by the Institute of Medicine, Clinical Practice Guidelines are “statements that include recommendations intended to optimize patient care that are informed by a systematic review of evidence and an assessment of the benefits and harms of alternative care options.” Guidelines are one way of increasing implementation of evidence into practice. They can serve as a guide to best practices, a framework for clinical decision making, and a benchmark for evaluating performance.
Guidelines benefit patients through promotion of better outcomes, fewer ineffective or unnecessary interventions, and greater consistency of care. Guidelines also promote creation of secondary implementation materials (pamphlets, videos, etc.) to further patient education and informed decision making. Clinicians can use guidelines to make decisions based on best evidence, initiate quality improvement efforts, and support coverage for appropriate services.
Address a limited number of identified sentinel/significant disease processes or procedures using up to 18 “Key Action Statements,” followed by action statement profiles that rate the quality of evidence and strength of recommendation. Physicians use guidelines to optimize patient care. Payers use guidelines as a basis for policy.
Level of Evidence
Highest level of evidence available based on systematic review of the literature. Ideally includes randomized trials, when available. Risk of bias is minimized through explicit and transparent methodology consistent with Institute of Medicine standards for trustworthy guidelines.
Process to Create
Guidelines may be specialty-specific or multidisciplinary, developed with input from a wide array of medical specialties, nurses, consumers, and other allied health professionals where appropriate. An explicit and transparent process is used to minimize biases, distortions, and conflicts of interests.
CPGs are reviewed for updates every 5 years or less if warranted by new evidence.
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