GPs warned over use of guidance

GPs must be able to justify any deviations from NICE guidance on an individual patient basis, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) has warned.

At a MIMS Dermatology conference in London last week, MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Karen Roberts said deviating from guidance could pose problems.

'If you are going to depart from a nationally recognised guideline, for example a NICE guideline, then you should be prepared to justify for that individual patient why you have chosen to depart from the guideline,' she said.

Justifications for ignoring guidance may depend on how established guidance is, she added. 'If it is a new guideline there may be some debate about how reasonable it is,' she said. 'You could be criticised at a later date if it becomes more acceptable.

'If it is an established guideline, so if it becomes less contentious, then it becomes more difficult to decide to override it.'

Last week the MDU stressed the importance of keeping clear and comprehensive records of all discussions with patients.

GPs must ensure they follow GMC advice on communicating with patients, including listening to patients' views and explaining their conditions and treatment, the MDU said.

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