Reconsider shutdown of research website, AHA urges feds

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After a funding cut forced the shutdown of a medical research database July 16, the American Hospital Association is urging the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to reconsider its decision.

The AHRQ's National Guideline Clearinghouse website gives users free access to clinical practice guidelines.

"The NGC has been a valuable resource to clinicians and healthcare organizations in the United States and across the world for two decades," the AHA wrote in a July 17 letter to the agency. "It provides easy access to evidence-based guidelines for practice, helping busy clinicians develop plans of care for patients, allowing healthcare organizations to create standard protocols for practice, embed decision support for their clinicians, and reduce practice variation to ensure the best outcomes for their patients."

The website included:

  • Structured, standardized abstracts (summaries) about each guideline and its development
  • A utility for comparing attributes of two or more guidelines side-by-side
  • Syntheses of guidelines covering similar topics, highlighting areas of similarity and difference
  • Links to full-text guidelines, where available, and/or ordering information for print copies

"AHRQ agrees that guidelines play an important role in clinical decision-making, but hard decisions had to be made about how to use the resources at our disposal," said Alison Hunt, a spokesperson for the agency, in a statement to The Daily Beast.

"It is regrettable that budget cuts have forced AHRQ to make the difficult decision to eliminate this valuable resource, much to the detriment of patients and the providers who treat them. We urge you to reconsider this decision," the AHA letter said.  

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