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      Guidelines Have Done More Harm than Good

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          Abstract

          Practice guidelines have proliferated in medicine but their impact on actual practice and outcomes is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify. Though guidelines are based largely on observational data and expert opinion, it is widely believed that adherence to them leads to improved outcomes. Data to support this belief simply does not exist. If guidelines are universally ignored, their impact on treatment and outcomes is minimal. The incorporation of guidelines into treatment protocols and performance measures, as is now common practice in nephrology, increases greatly the likelihood that guidelines will influence practice and hence, outcomes. Practice patterns set up this way may be resistant to change, should new evidence emerge that contradicts certain recommendations. Even if guidelines are entirely appropriate, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is likely to benefit some, but not all. Certain patients may be harmed by adherence to specific guidelines. Guidelines certainly do not encourage clinicians to consider and treat each patient as an individual. They are unlikely to stimulate original research. They are created by a process that is artificial, laborious and cumbersome. This all but guarantees many guidelines are obsolete by the time they are published. Guidelines are produced with industry support and recommendations often have a major impact on sales of industry products.

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          Most cited references 13

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          Correction of anemia with epoetin alfa in chronic kidney disease.

           Lynda Szczech,  ,  Shelly Sapp (2006)
          Anemia, a common complication of chronic kidney disease, usually develops as a consequence of erythropoietin deficiency. Recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin alfa) is indicated for the correction of anemia associated with this condition. However, the optimal level of hemoglobin correction is not defined. In this open-label trial, we studied 1432 patients with chronic kidney disease, 715 of whom were randomly assigned to receive a dose of epoetin alfa targeted to achieve a hemoglobin level of 13.5 g per deciliter and 717 of whom were assigned to receive a dose targeted to achieve a level of 11.3 g per deciliter. The median study duration was 16 months. The primary end point was a composite of death, myocardial infarction, hospitalization for congestive heart failure (without renal replacement therapy), and stroke. A total of 222 composite events occurred: 125 events in the high-hemoglobin group, as compared with 97 events in the low-hemoglobin group (hazard ratio, 1.34; 95% confidence interval, 1.03 to 1.74; P=0.03). There were 65 deaths (29.3%), 101 hospitalizations for congestive heart failure (45.5%), 25 myocardial infarctions (11.3%), and 23 strokes (10.4%). Seven patients (3.2%) were hospitalized for congestive heart failure and myocardial infarction combined, and one patient (0.5%) died after having a stroke. Improvements in the quality of life were similar in the two groups. More patients in the high-hemoglobin group had at least one serious adverse event. The use of a target hemoglobin level of 13.5 g per deciliter (as compared with 11.3 g per deciliter) was associated with increased risk and no incremental improvement in the quality of life. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00211120 [ClinicalTrials.gov].). Copyright 2006 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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            Normalization of hemoglobin level in patients with chronic kidney disease and anemia.

            Whether correction of anemia in patients with stage 3 or 4 chronic kidney disease improves cardiovascular outcomes is not established. We randomly assigned 603 patients with an estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of 15.0 to 35.0 ml per minute per 1.73 m2 of body-surface area and mild-to-moderate anemia (hemoglobin level, 11.0 to 12.5 g per deciliter) to a target hemoglobin value in the normal range (13.0 to 15.0 g per deciliter, group 1) or the subnormal range (10.5 to 11.5 g per deciliter, group 2). Subcutaneous erythropoietin (epoetin beta) was initiated at randomization (group 1) or only after the hemoglobin level fell below 10.5 g per deciliter (group 2). The primary end point was a composite of eight cardiovascular events; secondary end points included left ventricular mass index, quality-of-life scores, and the progression of chronic kidney disease. During the 3-year study, complete correction of anemia did not affect the likelihood of a first cardiovascular event (58 events in group 1 vs. 47 events in group 2; hazard ratio, 0.78; 95% confidence interval, 0.53 to 1.14; P=0.20). Left ventricular mass index remained stable in both groups. The mean estimated GFR was 24.9 ml per minute in group 1 and 24.2 ml per minute in group 2 at baseline and decreased by 3.6 and 3.1 ml per minute per year, respectively (P=0.40). Dialysis was required in more patients in group 1 than in group 2 (127 vs. 111, P=0.03). General health and physical function improved significantly (P=0.003 and P<0.001, respectively, in group 1, as compared with group 2). There was no significant difference in the combined incidence of adverse events between the two groups, but hypertensive episodes and headaches were more prevalent in group 1. In patients with chronic kidney disease, early complete correction of anemia does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00321919 [ClinicalTrials.gov].). Copyright 2006 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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              Arterial Calcifications and Bone Histomorphometry in End-Stage Renal Disease

               G. M. London (2004)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BPU
                Blood Purif
                10.1159/issn.0253-5068
                Blood Purification
                S. Karger AG
                978-3-8055-8467-8
                978-3-8055-8468-5
                0253-5068
                1421-9735
                2008
                January 2008
                10 January 2008
                : 26
                : 1
                : 73-76
                Affiliations
                aDivision of Nephrology and Hypertension, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, N.Y., USA; bDepartment of Nephrology and Intensive Care, St. Bortolo Hospital, Vicenza, Italy
                Article
                110569 Blood Purif 2008;26:73–76
                10.1159/000110569
                18182801
                © 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                References: 21, Pages: 4
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