Background: Despite the advent of evidence-based medicine, clinical pearls, verbal and published, remain a popular and important part of medical education.
Aims: The purpose of this study was to establish a definition of a clinical pearl and to determine criteria for an educationally sound clinical pearl.
Methods: The authors searched the Medline database for material dealing with clinical pearls, examined and discussed the information found, and formulated a consensus opinion regarding the definition and criteria.
Results: Clinical pearls are best defined as small bits of free standing, clinically relevant information based on experience or observation. They are part of the vast domain of experience-based medicine, and can be helpful in dealing with clinical problems for which controlled data do not exist.
Conclusions: While there are no universally accepted criteria for preparing or evaluating a clinical pearl, we propose some rational guidelines for both.