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Researchers try to cope without HHS public medical guideline database five months after its takedown

Sunlight Foundation: “When the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ) shut down its National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) in July, medical professionals who relied on the database, hosted at, reacted with alarm. For nearly 20 years, AHRQ’s repository of medical guidelines had served as the gold standard for clinicians, helping guide day to day care by keeping medical professionals informed of the most current research in virtually every field, and helping them evaluate the quality of guidelines published by a range of organizations. The vast archive of guidelines that the NGC once held — and the concise summaries of sometimes lengthy documents that made it a critical resource — is, for all practical purposes, inaccessible. AHRQ has not allowed any organization to take control of the materials, and has not allocated the resources required to maintain even a static archive of the records created over the past two decades. The nonprofit that originally created the database under contract with AHRQ, Pennsylvania-based ECRI Institute, recently launched what they hope will resemble a reconstructed NGC. But it’s far from complete and remains a work in progress. Five months after the NGC’s disappearance, professionals who relied on it have to work harder to find the guidelines they need.

According to Valerie King, a professor and Director of Research at the Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University, one of the NGC’s greatest strengths was that it centralized guidelines from hundreds of publishers — professional organizations, research institutes and others — in an easily searchable repository. Without that central destination, she and her staff have started going directly to professional organizations and other guideline authors “one by one by one…” [h/t Pete Weiss]

Please Note this Update per Betty Edwards: “ECRI Institute, an independent, nonprofit patient safety organization, has launched the ECRI Guidelines Trust™, a portal to expertly vetted, evidence-based guideline briefs and scorecards. The healthcare community has free access to the website, which will grow over time as more trustworthy clinical guidelines become available. ECRI Institute developed the new resource in response to urgent pleas from healthcare professionals after substantial federal funding cuts forced the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to shut down the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC). ECRI had developed and maintained the NGC website for 20 years. “Trustworthy clinical practice guidelines are essential to medical professionals who need to deliver safe and effective patient care. Since ECRI Institute’s mission is to advance effective, evidence-based healthcare globally, we are taking the lead to provide free access to trusted guideline resources,” says Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, president and CEO, ECRI Institute…”

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