Potential consequences of healthcare recommendations: A focus on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force


  • Potential conflict of interest: Dr. Reau advises and received grants from Vertex and Abbott. She also advises Bristol-Myers Squibb and Janssen.


Healthcare guidelines and recommendations have broad-reaching impact. They serve as the evidence to enforce medical testing by establishing a bar for standard of care through their intrinsic credibility but also by affecting reimbursement. In this article, we discuss the various organizations in the United States that develop healthcare policy and guidelines. We focus on the recent recommendations for hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening put forward by these agencies and the potential effect of these documents. Additional discussion is provided on the recent draft HCV screening recommendations provided by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), comparison of these to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, and professional societies' response to these. Conclusion: As written, the USPSTF recommendations may reduce physician adoption of HCV screening in the 1945-1965 birth cohort as advocated by the CDC. Conflicting guidelines may further confuse providers and the public. This will ultimately hinder recognition of chronic HCV in an otherwise easily identifiable, high prevalence group, allowing progression of disease at a time when therapeutic advances make cure a realistic opportunity for many. (HEPATOLOGY 2013 )