Clinical guidelines have been an integral part of medical practice since the first physician advised another on how to manage a patient. Formally a clinical guideline is a preformed recommendation made for the purpose of influencing a decision about a health intervention1; but informally virtually all textbook chapters, editorials, professorial pronouncements, advice from consultants, recommendations from organizations, clinical flow diagrams, utilization reviews, preauthorizations, and community standards (and many others) are forms of clinical guidelines. To add further complexity, terminology is far from standard. The terms clinical guidelines, clinical practice policies, practice parameters, standards, clinical pathways, and others appear in the literature synonymously despite attempts by some to refine and standardize them. Family physicians confronted with a guideline or policy must carefully determine exactly what is meant. In this chapter the term clinical guideline is used to comprise all synonyms.
KeywordsClinical Guideline Family Physician Clinical Pathway Health Care Policy Implicit Method
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