Thanks to many talented and dedicated scientists, new medical knowledge grows daily. In fact, the body of medical knowledge is growing so fast that reading 24 hours every day is not sufficient to keep abreast of new developments. Rapidly expanding knowledge and increasing complexity makes getting the right care to the right patient, at the right time, challenging. Yet the right care for the right person, at the right time, is exactly what patients and families want, need and deserve.
This is where medical guidelines enter the picture. Medical guidelines are developed by experts who methodically review the scientific literature and synthesize all available information into documents detailing clinical recommendations. They are like an operators’ manual for healthcare.
Who writes the guidelines makes a difference. It is important that all conflicts of interest be fully disclosed. The best guidelines are developed by independent teams comprised of individuals with varied clinical backgrounds, using standardized processes. Central Illinois leaders selected the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI) guidelines as the best in the country.
Healthcare guidelines are nothing new. What is new is the recognition that agreement on the best care is the first step towards getting better results.
Guidelines alone do not ensure that the goal of the right patient getting the right care at the right time is reached. More steps are needed, like checklists, teamwork and standardized protocols. Airline safety depends on checklists. Patient safety does too.
ICU checklists have been credited with saving lives. Dr. Atul Gawande, a Harvard surgeon writing for The New Yorker, says, “If a new drug were as effective at saving lives as Peter Pronovost’s checklist, there would be a nationwide marketing campaign urging doctors to use it.”
Every patient is different, and sometimes the science isn’t clear. Patients, with their doctors, need to decide what is best for them. When the evidence is clear, and it is in more and more instances, guidelines help doctors and nurses do a better job. iBi