Championing and facilitating high standard practice

Mark Morgan

15/11/2022 4:52:56 PM

RACGP Quality Care Chair Professor Mark Morgan discusses the importance of clinical guidelines and how the college determines which to publish.

Medical literature and stethoscope
It is impossible for any person to keep up with newly published medical literature.

The constant stream of newly published medical literature makes it impossible for any one doctor to constantly review – there is simply too much evidence.
To help put the scale of the task in perspective, the shortest timeframe for an experienced team of evidence reviewers to answer even a single question is two weeks.
However, despite the onerous demands associated with this task, it is a vital part of ensuring best-practice care.
In making healthcare management decisions, patients and clinicians must weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of alternative strategies – which is where clinical guidelines come in.
These invaluable resources are developed using a thorough methodology and play an important role in providing standardised care to patients, summarising the evidence on a topic and giving recommendations that can be used by busy GPs to assist clinical decisions.
The RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care (REC–QC) is heavily involved in this process as it determines which guidelines the college develops and publishes.
Crucially, these guidelines must address what is important for patient care. Key questions that the REC–QC needs to ask include:

  • Is there substantial variation in practice for the condition?
  • Is there an evidence base that can be assimilated into a guideline to assist GPs?
  • Is there already a trusted and accessible guideline?
Sometimes we are asked and funded to produce guidelines, but it is still important to ask these questions.
At the RACGP it is the role of the REC–QC to champion and facilitate high standard Australian general practice and position general practice to make a substantial contribution to the emerging quality initiatives within the Australian health system.
The REC–QC oversees guidelines, position papers and RACGP responses to submissions related to clinical issues or delivery of quality care.
First do no harm
The REC–QC oversees clinical guidelines developed by the RACGP, with the next being First do no harm: A guide to choosing wisely in general practice – a new resource being launched at GP22.
As indicated in its title, the aim of this guide is to help avoid harm from healthcare. The guide provides a succinct summary of evidence-based information for GPs, accompanied by a matching patient resource, to encourage open, shared decision making between GPs and patients.
It builds on existing RACGP resources such as the Handbook of Non-Drug Interventions (HANDI) and the Red Book, as well as external initiatives such as Choosing Wisely.
Each topic is focused on a single test, treatment or diagnostic label, highlighted with a ‘traffic light’ system so clinicians can quickly and easily see what actions they should or shouldn’t undertake with patients. 
The ‘living resource’ will grow as new entries are added.
Updated RACGP guidelines
Several existing college guidelines are currently being updated, including: The RACGP also recently launched Abuse and violence: Working with our patients in general practice (White Book), 5th edition.
A full list of guidelines is available on the RACGP website.
Members interested in being involved in developing RACGP clinical guidelines can contact the Quality Care team at
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clinical guidelines evidence-based care first do no harm quality care too much medicine

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