We have clinical practice guidelines for the management of different chronic conditions. These guidelines are based on the best available scientific evidence and include summarised consensus statements on best practice in healthcare.
We need guidelines so that health professionals can improve their treatment practices and improve patient access to information about treatment options. Doctors and other health professionals are obliged to know the medical guidelines of their profession.
Clinical guidelines identify, summarise and evaluate the highest quality evidence and most current data about prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, therapy including dosage of medications and risk versus benefit and cost-effectiveness. Then they define the most important questions related to clinical practice and identify all possible decision options and their outcomes. Other objectives of clinical guidelines are to standardise medical care, to raise quality of care, to reduce risk to the patient and to the doctor and to achieve the best balance between cost and effectiveness.
Guidelines are usually produced at national or international levels by professional medical associations or government bodies.
In the United Kingdom, clinical practice guidelines are published primarily by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). In Australia, clinical practiced guidelines are published primarily by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
It has been found that clinical practice guidelines are not routinely followed to the extent they should be. This is a major contributing factor to the treatment gap.