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QRB Qual Rev Bull. 1992 Dec;18(12):456-60.

Implementing practice guidelines through a utilization management strategy: the potential and the challenges.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA 90048.


Although there is currently much enthusiasm for practice guidelines, far more energy and resources have been expended on their development than on their implementation. A prospective interventional trial was performed using a previously validated explicit practice guideline (decision aid) to decrease the hospital length of stay for selected "low-risk" patients with chest pain. Utilization management (UM) coordinators (RNs) and physicians were chosen to implement the guideline since these resource people are available in most hospitals, allowing for generalization of the experience. With explicit review criteria used for 624 patients, it was found that when the guideline was applied by UM coordinators, it had a sensitivity of 0.85, a specificity of 0.90, a positive predictive value of 0.76, and a negative predictive value of 0.94. The attending physicians failed to override falsely classified low-risk patient recommendations 51% of the time. Implicit review judged that outcome might have theoretically been worsened in two of these patients. Follow-up at 30 days after admission, however, revealed no untoward sequelae in falsely categorized patients discharged according to the guideline. Utilization management appears to be a promising mechanism for guideline implementation that is available in most institutions. However, the accuracy with which UM coordinators implement guidelines should be assessed rigorously. Guidelines should be implemented in an environment of checks and balances in which physicians have the ultimate responsibility for their patients' care.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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