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Minerva Medica 2003 June;94(3):129-34


language: Italian

Appropriateness in the health system: past, present and future

Berni G., Buiatti E., Conti A. A., Gensini G. F., Malucelli R., Panti A., Santoni S., Tomassini C. R.


Nowadays, a health procedure or a clinical pathway are considered appropriate when they appear adequate with respect to scientific knowledge, consistent with the patient's values, safe as to risk management, and convenient with regard to the allocation of resources. This has not always been the case during the course of history, as the different clinical-methodological approaches to the same pathology in different Schools and Universities indicate, even in the same country. A hundred years ago, the difference of approaches could be explained by the limited circulation of ideas, usually based upon weak evidence, if not the personal impressions, of individual physicians. Today, on the contrary, evidence based medicine can represent a useful element in rendering homogeneous different types of behaviour in the same situation, and one of its characterising features is the elaboration of the concept of appropriateness. Appropriateness is a parameter internal to the evolution of health professions, requiring reasoned and shared employment. It originates from the need of health operators to explain why so many different kinds of behaviour exist in the context of the same clinical question. All the issues related to the concepts of clinical judgement and clinical decision-making derive from this and today more and more attention is being dedicated to the idea of appropriateness. The search for appropriateness is a progressive and cyclic process, that may always be improved. At present, strenuous team work is needed to avoid the features of the health system that are more clearly inappropriate, and that emerge from very simple analyses. Doing this is in the interest of the citizens, of health professionals and of the health economy as well.

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