Clinical Practice Guidelines
What is a Clinical Practice Guideline?
"Clinical practice guidelines are systematically developed statements to assist practitioner and patient decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances" (Institute of Medicine, 1990). Guidelines define the role of specific diagnostic and treatment modalities in the diagnosis and management of patients. The statements contain recommendations that are based on evidence from a rigorous systematic review and evaluation of the published medical literature.
The purpose of guidelines is to help clinicians and patients make appropriate decisions about health care. Guidelines attempt to do this by:
- Describing a range of generally accepted approaches for the diagnosis, management, or prevention of specific diseases or conditions.
- Defining practices that meet the needs of most patients in most circumstances.
The recommendations are not fixed protocols that must be followed. Responsible clinician's judgment on the management of patients remains paramount. Clinicians and patients need to develop individual treatment plans that are tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the patient.
These guidelines are primarily for use by clinicians--physicians, nurses, and other health professionals in clinical practice. They are also useful to managed care organizations and other groups that define benefit plans for patients or handle health care resources.
back to top