Are the guidelines really voluntary?

Are the guidelines really voluntary?| By Pat Anson

When is a medical guideline voluntary and when does it become a “standard of practice” that doctors are expected to follow?

That is one of the key questions in the ongoing debate over controversial guidelines for opioid prescribing unveiled last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Physicians are not required to use the guideline, instead it is intended to support informed clinical decision making regarding the provision of safer, more effective pain treatment for patients,” said Courtney Leland, a spokesperson for the CDC.

But the CDC’s own internal documents make clear that the agency’s ultimate goal is for the guidelines to be widely adopted.  

Are the guidelines really voluntary?|

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