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Br J Cancer. 2006 Dec 4;95(11):1490-6. Epub 2006 Nov 21.

Evidence-based guidelines and decision support services: A discussion and evaluation in triple assessment of suspected breast cancer.

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Advanced Computation Laboratory, Cancer Research UK, London WC2A 3PX, UK.


Widespread health service goals to improve consistency and safety in patient care have prompted considerable investment in the development of evidence-based clinical guidelines. Computerised decision support (CDS) systems have been proposed as a means to implement guidelines in practice. This paper discusses the general concept in oncology and presents an evaluation of a CDS system to support triple assessment (TA) in breast cancer care. Balanced-block crossover experiment and questionnaire study. One stop clinic for symptomatic breast patients. Twenty-four practising breast clinicians from United Kingdom National Health Service hospitals. A web-based CDS system. Clinicians made significantly more deviations from guideline recommendations without decision support (60 out of 120 errors without CDS; 16 out of 120 errors with CDS, P < 0.001). Ignoring minor deviations, 16 potentially critical errors arose in the no-decision-support arm of the trial compared with just one (P = 0.001) when decision support was available. Opinions of participating clinicians towards the CDS tool became more positive after they had used it (P < 0.025). The use of decision support capabilities in TA may yield significant measurable benefits for quality and safety of patient care. This is an important option for improving compliance with evidence-based practice guidelines.

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