What Is a Care Map?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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A care map is a flowchart used in the management of a medical condition. It documents key stages in the treatment process, along with decision points where the care map may split off with different options. Clinical actions at each phase can be discussed, along with alternatives. Some medical facilities utilize care maps to ensure consistency and quality of care. They can also be part of medical training for people learning to work in the health field.

These documents start with a diagnosis, and discuss several different implications which need to be addressed and managed. If a patient has depression, for example, it might be important to find out how it’s manifesting to determine how to provide treatment. This could include suicidal thoughts and feelings of helplessness, both of which require different clinical actions. Therapy and medication might be indicated on the basis of interaction and observation.

Using a care map can ensure that patients receive methodical care, without missed steps that might be dangerous. Each decision should be supported by a series of stages on the map to show how the decision was made and what kind of information justified it. The most recent medical evidence is used in the development of documentation to support decision making in clinical environments, to provide the highest quality of care for patients. This can include the outcomes of clinical trials, observational research, and surveys to learn more about how patients respond to different services.


In addition to working with generic care maps designed for patients with specific diagnoses, medical teams can also make their own. They work with information about the patient and the situation to create a series of steps to follow in a treatment plan. This helps the team stay on track, and can minimize the risk of distractions that might result in missed opportunities. A series of steps lays out actions for a variety of eventualities to keep people focused even as they encounter complications that might require them to step back along the care map to repeat a prior stage.

Workbooks are available with common care maps and tools for designing new ones for specific cases. These may be assigned to medical students and other people in training. As they interact with patients in clinical practice, they can apply their experience to the cases they treat. This may involve working with patients through each step of a care map to the resolution or long term management of a condition.



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