How to use practice guidelines in the intensive care unit
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OBJECTIVE: Practice guidelines are often based on expert opinion, and are sometimes based on research evidence, but are usually a mix of both. The goal of this article is to aid in the evaluation of the validity of practice guidelines. DATA SYNTHESIS: The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research Practice Guideline on Management of Unstable Angina and other relevant primary and synthetic research. METHODS: Critical appraisal of guidelines requires understanding how guideline developers identified, appraised, and summarized the evidence, and how they chose the values reflected in their recommendations. To determine whether guidelines are applicable in our practice, we look for clear and concise recommendations about specific populations, describing common options linked to clinically important outcomes. Guidelines must be considered in light of local skills, culture, and resources, and need to be individualized to different patients and settings. CONCLUSIONS: As better evidence and new clinical insights emerge, guidelines require updating. The ultimate value of a guideline is determined by evaluating its effect on process of care, resource utilization, and most importantly, patient outcomes.
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