Clinical practice guidelines are important tools used by physicians for the appropriate health care and treatment of conditions with specific circumstances. There are often many treatment options available to physicians for all skin conditions so the clinical practice guidelines provide evidence-based information to support the decision-making process in patient care.
The purpose of clinical practice guidelines is to describe appropriate care based on the best available scientific evidence. Because they are developed to promote best practice for populations of patients, they will have variable applicability to individual patients. They do not define a standard of care but may inform the standard of care for individual patients. One criticism of clinical practice guidelines is that they are too stringent. They are not meant to be used as inflexible protocols for patient care, nor are they meant to replace the professional judgment of physicians.
Why should patients care about clinical practice guidelines?
These documents inform how physicians will be treating your specific condition. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario believes that the development of clinical practice guidelines should involve a standard and systematic process that adheres to specific criteria. This criterion includes the addition of appropriate stakeholders in their development, including patients. Patient organizations, such as the CSPA, can advocate on behalf of patients to ensure that their perspective is included in the clinical practice guidelines.
The CSPA and Clinical Practice Guidelines
Lately the CSPA has been asked to review and endorse a variety of clinical practice guidelines. The most recent has been for the management of acne. See http://www.cmaj.ca/content/early/2015/11/16/cmaj.140665.full.pdf for more details. Other links will be added to this site once they are approved.
The Canadian Medical Association keeps a database of the most recent approved clinical practice guidelines: https://www.cma.ca/En/Pages/clinical-practice-guidelines.aspx.