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By David Charles, MD and Mary Ann Chapman, PhD

When patients experience health problems, they trust their physicians to recommend the best possible treatments, taking into account their medical history, symptoms, and preferences. Physicians rely on their training and experience to make these important decisions. To assist physicians and help promote evidence-based health care, clinical practice guidelines have been developed for a variety of health conditions and procedures.

Clinical practice guidelines can substantially influence medical practice and patient access to treatment. For these reasons, it is essential that organizations follow a transparent, inclusive, and evidence-based process for guideline development. Moreover, guideline recommendations were never intended to apply to all patients or to replace physician judgment. Consequently, clinical practice guidelines should not be used to force one-size-fits-all health care.

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