Clinical treatment guidelines are systematically developed based on evidence to assist a physician in selecting the proper dosage and appropriate health care for a given ailment, but these guidelines are not concrete. Alternative types of treatment guidelines are available for mental health conditions, disease prevention and cancer patients. The chosen treatment regimen can vary greatly between patients and physicians, depending on factors such as lifestyle, economic status, religion, health condition and age. A treatment guideline offers one way to improve the quality of healthcare and instill consistency among practitioners worldwide.
When treatment guidelines are developed for a new drug, extensive research and testing is performed to characterize the drug in terms of its pharmacology and toxicology. Pharmacologists analyze the behavior of a drug within a biological system and its effect on function. Toxicologists evaluate the safety of a drug and the potential to produce adverse side effects and mortality. The results of these analyses are essential for the justification of dosage levels and treatment guidelines during clinical trials. Any additional findings that arise after a drug is on the market will often lead to changes in the treatment guideline.
A common treatment guideline for antibiotics involves taking a capsule as often as three times daily for 10 consecutive days. Prescribed dosage levels can vary depending on the patient’s age, the severity of the infection and the risk of side effects. This is where the pharmacology and toxicology data can be helpful. In general, a course of antibiotics must be completed exactly as prescribed, or the infection could worsen and the immune system could develop antibiotic resistance. Special considerations for potential drug interactions and allergic reactions are crucial to ensuring a safe and effective treatment regimen.
When it comes to mental health conditions, disease prevention and cancer treatment, the treatment guidelines are even more diverse. Practitioners who specialize in holistic health care or homeopathic medicine rely on natural remedies using herbs, dietary supplements, acupuncture, massage therapy and more to treat a variety of ailments. Psychologists dealing with behavioral issues in adults and children might choose a different type of treatment regimen for an adult versus a child. Oncologists often recommend treatment guidelines that address both the clinical and mental needs of cancer patients.
Many aspects of healthcare are based on an individual’s values, including lifestyle, philosophy and religion. Development of various types of treatment guidelines is only one way of improving the quality of healthcare. Treatment guidelines are intended to promote evidence-based practices, efficient use of resources and global standardization while providing a focus for continuing education and future research.