The Guidelines Office of the EAU will be presenting a significant number of updates at the upcoming Annual Meeting in Paris. Three sessions will include presentations on guidelines, including Urinary Incontinence, Bladder Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Urolithiasis and Infections. The congress editions of EUT will present further details on these, and other, guidelines.
It may be self-evident that the EAU Guidelines Office claim that guidelines are important and present an major tool for the future practice of urology. But, this is a claim that comes with considerable responsibility. It is evident that guidelines do not seem to be losing significance in an information age, where access to the internet puts all data, electronically, right on everyone’s desktop.
Quite the contrary, over the past years, worldwide, a significant increase in guidelines production and expenditures can be witnessed, irrespective of financial constraints all guidelines producers face in the current economic climate. And guidelines making does not come cheap!
It seems that the expectation that this new media age would make guidelines obsolete has been proven wrong. This is fairly easy to explain since unless high quality, high volume research, in all fields of urology becomes available that will not happen. And we are all aware that for a considerable portion of the patients urologists see, this is highly unlikely ever to occur.
At the same time we see the trend of authoritative organizations setting up rating and accrediting schemes for clinical guidelines. Irrespective of how one perceives such initiatives, they are certainly going to influence what professional medical associations involved in guidelines production can, and should be, doing in the years to come – one way or another.
It is important to remember that guidelines have many purposes: the first - and most important one -is to present the state of the art in a particular field, aiming to raise the quality of patient care. But there are a number of derivative goals, control healthcare costs, legal implications, political implications – safeguarding remits of specialty groups, etc.
We should be sensitive to all of these aspects, but not lose sight of our main goal, which is to continue upgrading the quality of our own documents. Being scrutinized, for whatever reason, can be to our advantage and an incentive to continue improving the way we approach guidelines making. In fact, our users – which extend way beyond the current EAU membership – have been scrutinizing and rating EAU clinical guidelines from the onset of this project.
The full version of this article can be found on page 6 of the December-February edition of European Urology Today.