You may have heard of NICE Guidelines being referred to by doctors, nurses or practitioners when they are explaining a treatment plan and their reasons or by lawyers and medical experts when considering the standard of treatment provided.
NICE stands for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. The Guidelines they produce are the result of evidence based recommendations for health and care in England. The evidence is usually provided and brought together by a team of those in the relevant field with the most knowledge, experience and research in the area that the guideline involves. The Guidelines are a product of shared expertise from all over the country and this expertise is brought together for the benefit of us all.
There are many many different Guidelines and they are regularly updated as time passes and knowledge changes. There are Guidelines that cover clinical care; social care; public health; medicines practice; cancer services and antimicrobial prescribing.
The NICE website explains that the ‘Guidelines set out the care and services suitable for most people with a specific condition or need, and people in particular circumstances or settings’. In reality the Guidelines can be used as a standard for healthcare professionals when making everyday decisions. For example, if a doctor is faced with a particular condition they can look to the Guidelines for the recommended action in that case.
In medical negligence claims the experts often look at the relevant Guideline as a starting point for considering whether a treating clinician acted appropriately. It is not mandatory for a clinician to follow the Guideline as after all they are guidelines rather than a set of rules. However, it is accepted in most cases that if NICE Guidelines are not followed that a clinician would have to have a good reason for departing from the Guideline and doing something different and this should be made clear in the medical records. An example of this would be if the person was suffering another condition that needed to be considered in their treatment plan and a particular Guideline didn’t suit their needs. In most cases though the Guideline should be followed.
If you are concerned that you have received substandard care and NICE Guidelines were not followed one of experienced team would be pleased to discuss your query and look to assist. Please contact us on 0151 645 0055 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Lydia Brindley