Guidelines for clinical practice are intended to indicate preferred approaches to medical problems as established by scientifically valid research. Double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are preferable, but compassionate use reports and expert review articles are used in a thorough review of the literature conducted through Medline with the National Library of Medicine. Only when data that will not withstand objective scrutiny are available is a recommendation identified as a consensus of experts. Guidelines are applicable to all physicians who address the subject, without regard to specialty training or interests, and are intended to indicate the preferable, but not necessarily the only, acceptable approach to a specific problem. Guidelines are intended to be flexible and must be distinguished from standards of care, which are inflexible and rarely violated. Given the wide range of specifics in any health-care problem, the physician must always choose the course best suited to the individual patient and the variables in existence at the moment of decision. These guidelines were developed under the auspices of the American College of Gastroenterology by a committee of experts in the field, reviewed by its Practice Parameters Committee, and approved by the Board of Trustees. The recommendations of these guidelines are therefore considered valid at the time of production based on the data available. New developments in medical research and practice pertinent to each guideline will be reviewed at an established time and indicated at publication to assure continued validity. Owing to the volume of new data on the subject of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)-related injury to the upper gastrointestinal tract, i.e., the advent of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 inhibitors, new data on interactions between these agents, as well as traditional NSAIDs, with aspirin and H. pylori, it was elected by the Committee to confine these guidelines to upper gastrointestinal (GI) injury and to leave post-duodenal injury as the subject of a separate guideline.
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