5 Ways to Use Clinician’s Brief Algorithms (And Where to Find Them)

April 17, 2023
3 min

Algorithms are visual clinical roadmaps designed to help you use the information you have to make key decisions. You might also know them as decision trees, schemas, or flowcharts. In this article, we’re talking about the algorithms in Plumb’s Pro™, which you might recognize if you’ve ever read an issue of Clinician’s Brief.

These trusted diagnostic and treatment tools can:

  • Get you started when an emergency walks in the door (while your brain is still catching up to your heartbeat)
  • Help you double-check your thinking during routine cases to make sure you’re not missing anything
  • Walk you through complex decisions when there are many potential diagnoses or treatments
  • Help you regroup when the patient isn’t responding to treatment as expected

The Clinician’s Brief algorithms in Plumb’s Pro™ are intended to help you make complex clinical decisions more easily. Here are several ways they can support you in clinical practice. 

1. Prepare for an incoming case.

When you know a particularly challenging case is coming in, algorithms are a great way to start considering your approach. As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

So next time your client service representative tells you there’s a potential dystocia case on the way, bring up the algorithm for dystocia. You’ll have a game plan before your patient even walks in the door. 

2. Move forward efficiently.

When a hit-by-car patient arrives, even the most confident emergency veterinarians can experience an adrenaline rush. And unfortunately, this fight or flight response can sometimes make our brains foggy—and make it harder to determine our next steps.

Brain fog doesn’t have to slow you down when you’re using Plumb’s Pro™. When an emergency arrives and is in critical condition, an algorithm will walk you and your team through stabilizing your patient and performing diagnostics.

3. Evaluate the alternatives.

Creating a differential list or choosing the right treatments can be tricky. It gets trickier when signs are vague or you have many treatment options. An algorithm can help you get it all on paper, so you can start prioritizing the most likely diagnoses or the treatments with the most potential benefit.

Cat that’s losing weight? Dog with exercise intolerance? Algorithms will help you with your differential list and ensure you’ve considered all the possibilities.

4. Avoid skipping steps.

Anyone doing research and jotting notes to themselves hours after closing time knows how complex medical cases can be. Having a comprehensive guide like an algorithm to walk you through case management can help relieve the strain of relying on your memory and searching skills—and make sure you don’t miss a single step. 

5. Go back to the drawing board.

It can be maddening when seemingly straightforward cases don’t respond as expected. Even if you didn’t use an algorithm at first, going back and reviewing one can be a good way to figure out where things might have gone wrong or determine how to approach your refractory patient.

Whether you’re having trouble controlling diabetes in your patient or you’re managing a case of stubborn dermatophytosis, an algorithm can show you where to go next.

Where can I find Clinician’s Brief algorithms?

When Clinician’s Brief algorithms were first published, the only way to save them was to tear them out, issue by issue, and save them in a binder. (Or buy the hard copy.)

Plumb’s Pro™ has made it easier than ever to access Clinician’s Brief algorithms where and when you need them. They’re now completely searchable and easy to identify on the Plumb’s™ website and app that many of your colleagues already rely on daily.

You can find algorithms in Plumb’s Pro™ with a quick search by clinical condition, test result, or diagnosis. Just look for the green Algorithm tag in the search results. 

Once you click the algorithm title, it will open a PDF for convenient scrolling, zooming, and printing.

Want to see what other algorithms are available? Tap on the Clinical Tools menu and select Algorithms to bring up an alphabetical index.

Want to see Plumb’s Pro™ in action? Watch a free demo.

Ready to make Plumb’s Pro™ your partner in practice? Go Pro now.