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Clinical care standards: appropriate care everywhere — acute coronary syndromes as an example

Australian practice data from clinical audits and other research have clearly shown that dissemination of high quality clinical practice guidelines is not enough to ensure everyone with a particular clinical condition receives appropriate care.13 Even for clinical conditions with established networks of care, such as acute coronary syndromes (ACS), variations in care persist, not all of which can be explained by patient needs or preferences. In this article, we explore the features and underlying principles of clinical care standards (looking at the example of ACS) and the improvements in delivery of appropriate care that a clinical care standard may help to make.

The National Health Reform Agreement signed by the Council of Australian Governments in 2011 (http://www.federalfinancialrelations.gov.au/content/npa/health/_archive/national-agreement.pdf) determined that clinical standards would be developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) to help ensure appropriateness of care for specific clinical conditions nationally. Clinical care standards are small sets of concise recommendations (quality statements) that focus on specific gaps in evidence-based practice for a clinical condition. Their…