Clinical Practice Guidelines: the More, the Better?

Xiulu Ruan, Li Ma, Ngoc Vo, Srinivas Chiravuri


Clinical practice guidelines are supposed to be evidence based and unbiased. High quality guidelines have the potential to promote the use of effective clinical services, minimize undesirable practice variation, and reduce the use of unnecessary services. Unfortunately, most of the guidelines produced thus far are flawed and untrustworthy. High quality guidelines may still have the intrinsic limitation of being too disease-focused rather than patient-focused, and lack applicability and validity when dealing with patients with multiple comorbidities or diseases. When applicable, clinical practice guidelines may serve as a relative guidance, rather than the absolute standard. Physicians need to be critical and vigilant when faced with a plethora of guidelines as following flawed practice guidelines may result in harm to patients. The use of clinical practice guidelines as the “standard of care” as well as for pay-for-performance based on guideline adherence is unjustified. 


Guidelines, trustworthy, limitation, bias

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