GPs face guideline ‘tsunami’
GPs face a "tsunami" of guidelines, being deluged with a new guidance document every 48 hours on average, says the Medical Protection Society (MPS).
The expectation for doctors to have "local knowledge about every subject" is "a wholly unrealistic and unnecessary source of pressure," said Dr Stephanie Bown, MPS Director of Policy and Communications.
The warning follows a survey by the MPS of guidelines sent to GPs in October 2011. There were 15 documents in total, covering a broad spectrum of topics, from CQC inspections on equality and human rights to the public health risks of fish pedicures.
The documents tended to be lengthy, with most over 30 pages and many exceeding 100 pages and even involving multiple documents.
Dr John Adams, a hospital doctor medicolegal adviser at the MPS, commented: "Often the guidelines are so specialised that they are not relevant to all doctors' practice. The danger is that doctors may receive so many emails of varying importance that the most crucial information is being missed."
To help GPs stay abreast of new documents, the MPS proposes that GPs are sent a monthly roundup of new guidelines that they could electronically "tick" once read. The roundup might include summaries of the salient points of each document, and could potentially be tailored to the interests of individual doctors.
"A co-ordinated approach could also work well, such as a summary of guidelines from all organisations for a set period of time that the doctor could browse and select the most relevant items," Dr Adams added.
GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011
By Joanna Lyford