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Evidence based medicine in practice: lessons from a Scottish clinical genetics project


OBJECTIVE To establish national clinical guidelines and integrated care pathways for five conditions (tuberous sclerosis (TS), Huntington's disease (HD), myotonic dystrophy (MD), neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), and Marfan syndrome (MS)) and audit their use in Scotland.

DESIGN Systematic review of published reports followed by consensus conferences to prepare clinical guidelines and integrated care pathways. Structured review of medical records before and after introduction of integrated care pathways to document changes in practice. Survey of staff views on procedures adopted.

SETTING All four clinical genetics centres in Scotland.

RESULTS Project resulted in reduced variation in practice across centres, improved data recording in medical records, and improved communication with other professional groups. A very poor evidence base for management of patients with the conditions studied was found.

CONCLUSIONS A collaborative structure for undertaking clinical research would improve the evidence base for current practice. National discussion of the boundaries of responsibility of care for the long term management of patients with these disorders is required. The integrated care pathway approach shows promise as a means of facilitating the development of audit within clinical genetics services.

  • clinical guidelines
  • audit
  • evidence based medicine
  • care pathways
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