In health care, critical pathways are "schedules of medical and nursing procedures, including diagnostic tests, medications, and consultations designed to effect an efficient, coordinated program of treatment." They have been used as the core logic of clinical decision support systems,  and to structure quality improvement reviews. 
At a detailed level, there is a similarity between recognition of medical critical procedures, and the life-critical procedures, standardized by checklists, of human factors engineering and specific domains such as aviation safety. These disciplines recognize the problems of information overload and situational awareness. Emergency medicine relies significantly on standardized protocols, often by checklist, for situations requiring quick response under pressure, such as cardiac arrest and coma. Basic support of cardiac or respiratory arrest is quite standardized, and, as diagnostic information such as electrocardiograms become available, increasingly specific pathways are selected. For example, once it is known that a patient is in ventricular fibrillation, the pathway will be markedly different than that for asystole.
Measuring adherence is difficult.
"Clinical pathways are associated with reduced in-hospital complications and improved documentation without negatively impacting on length of stay and hospital costs." according to a meta-analysis by the Cochrane Collaboration.
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