Ever wonder what the difference is between an ACOG Committee Opinion and an ACOG Practice Bulletin? Ever wonder what exactly people mean when they say "ACOG Guideline"? Well, I have. A little digging and talking to people more knowledgeable than myself revealed the answers. Practice Bulletins are subtitled "Clinical Management Guidelines for Obstetrician-Gynecologists" so these are what are popularly referred to as guidelines. According to the monthly list of titles, practice bulletins "provide obstetricians and gynecologists with current information on established techniques and clinical management guidelines." Committee Opinions, on the other hand, "are intended to provide timely information on controversial issues, ethical concerns, and emerging approaches to clinical management. They represent the considered views of the sponsoring committee based on interpretation of published data in peer-reviewed journals." Both Practice Bulletins and Committee Opinions are reviewed regularly to make sure the information is current. ACOG also publishes Technology Assessments, which provide an overview of technology in the field.
Even if you are aware of the distinction, these publications can sometimes be hard to find. Via the ACOG website, they are only available to members or subscribers. FSMFN is a subscriber, but our subscription only allows access to publications from the current year (you can find the login information in our AtoZ journal list; just search for "ACOG"). ACOG does provide open access to their List of Titles. These lists can serve as an index to the publications. You might want to keep these links handy:
Practice Bulletins: http://www.acog.org/from_home/publications/green_journal/PBListOfTitles.pdf
Committee Opinions: http://www.acog.org/from_home/publications/green_journal/COListOfTitles.pdf
Practice Bulletins and Committee Opinions are published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, aka The Green Journal. You'll notice that the lists above note which volume and issue of the journal they appeared in. With that information, you can then use Frontier's electronic subscription to Obstetrics & Gynecology to access the full text (please remember to log off of OVID when you're done,though). Please note that Practice Bulletins and Committee Opinions published prior to 2003 are not available through the electronic subscription. We have both the bulletins and opinions themselves and the Green Journal in print in Hyden. So if you are searching for a Practice Bulletin or Committee Opinion and can't find it electronically, let us know, and we'll scan the print copy for you.
Next up: how to search for a guideline when you're not sure one exists.