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It is essential that the medical profession play a central role in critically evaluating the evidence related to drugs, devices and procedures for the detection, management or prevention of disease. Properly applied, rigorous, expert analysis of the available data documenting absolute and relative benefits and risks of these therapies and procedures can improve the effectiveness of care, optimize patient outcomes and favorably affect the cost of care by focusing resources on the most effective strategies. One important use of such data is the production of clinical practice guidelines that, in turn, can provide a foundation for a variety of other applications, such as performance measures, appropriate use criteria, clinical decision support tools and quality improvement tools.
The American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have jointly engaged in the production of guidelines in the area of cardiovascular disease since 1980. The ACCF/AHA Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Task Force) is charged with developing, updating and revising practice guidelines for cardiovascular diseases and procedures, and the Task Force directs and oversees this effort. Writing committees are charged with assessing the evidence as an independent group of authors to develop, update or revise recommendations for clinical practice.
Experts in the subject under consideration have been selected from both organizations to examine subject specific data and write guidelines in partnership with representatives from other medical practitioner and specialty groups. Writing committees are specifically charged to perform a formal literature review; weigh the strength of evidence for or against particular tests, treatments, or procedures; and include estimates of expected health outcomes where data exist. Patient specific modifiers, comorbidities and issues of patient preference that may influence the choice of tests or therapies are considered. When available, information from studies on cost is considered but data on efficacy and clinical …
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