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New questions about medicine's "best practice" guidelines – evidence or opinion?

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An article and an editorial in this week’s Archives of Internal Medicine rip open new questions about guidelines set by professional medical societies.

Reuters Health reports on the publications:

“Even when following medical guidelines to the letter, doctors often use treatments that have little or no scientific support, U.S. researchers said Monday.

They found only one in seven treatment recommendations from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) — a society representing healthcare providers and researchers across the country — were based on high-quality data from clinical trials.

By contrast, more than half the recommendations relied solely on expert opinion or anecdotal evidence.”

The Institute of Medicine has convened a committee “to recommend standards for developing clinical practice guidelines and recommendations” with a goal of ensuring “that clinical practice guidelines are unbiased, scientifically valid, and trustworthy and also incorporate separate grading systems for characterizing quality of available evidence and strength of clinical recommendations.” That report was originally scheduled to be released in February, 2011 – next month.

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