How Algorithms Help Veterinarians Clarify Clinical Choices

August 1, 2022
4 min

Clinicians have to make an exhausting number of decisions every day. A study of physicians found that they consciously made more than 150 clinically relevant decisions during a shift. Those decisions weigh heavily when lives are on the line.

Making clinical choices in small animal veterinary practice doesn’t have to be so exhausting. Algorithms are a trusted diagnostic and treatment tool that 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

These visual clinical roadmaps are 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

What do algorithms cover?

Broadly speaking, algorithms help clinicians diagnose and treat cases—routine and emergent, common and complex.

Each algorithm in Plumb’s Pro™ covers a clinical sign (like panting), a test result (like hypoglycemia), or a clinical diagnosis (like gastric dilatation-volvulus).

These three basic elements are arranged into a flowchart format:

  • Investigation: Recommends which parameters to assess (signalment, presenting complaint, physical exam findings, diagnostics, or response to treatment) 
  • Based on your assessment of these parameters,  algorithms then recommend:
    • Differentials and/or
    • Treatments

The algorithms in Plumb’s Pro™ cover a variety of clinical concerns, ranging from those that put a patient at death’s door to ones we have more time to think about. They include conditions that affect most patients we see and the cases we (hopefully) won’t see very often.

Emergency Management

Be ready for whatever walks in the door with emergency algorithms that help you assess your patient and start treatment without missing a beat.

A sampling of topics included in Plumb’s Pro™:

  • Vehicular trauma
  • Respiratory distress
  • Status epilepticus
  • Dystocia in the bitch

Refractory Cases

Treatment doesn’t always go as expected. When you feel like your patient’s condition might be resistant to treatment, or you need to go back to the drawing board, reach for an algorithm. 

Here’s a sampling of particularly helpful algorithms you’ll find in Plumb’s Pro™:

  • Lack of diabetic control (cats, dogs)
  • Persistent hookworm infection in dogs
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Refractory immune-mediated hemolytic anemia

Common Complaints

Our algorithms also cover cases you see every day. Even though you may feel comfortable treating these conditions, algorithms help you stay up to date, double-check your approach, teach new clinicians, or explain next steps to pet owners and team members.

  • Canine pruritic dermatitis
  • Feline weight loss
  • Lameness
  • Obesity (cats and dogs)
  • Periodontal staging

Complex Cases

Then there are those cases that make our brains hurt, like the ones with a differential list longer than your arm. Algorithms have your back when it comes to these cases, too.

  • Anemia
  • Acute renal failure
  • Anterior uveitis
  • Blood gas analysis
  • Collapse
  • Canine diabetic ketoacidosis
  • (…and that’s just the first three letters of the alphabet)

Get a look at algorithms (and more) in action in this free demo.

What makes the algorithms in Plumb’s Pro™ unique?

Clinician’s Brief was founded on the realization that veterinarians don’t have copious free time to wade through journal articles. We need tools we can trust that are easy to use in practice.

Our award-winning editorial team works with subject matter experts to create peer-reviewed content that our own veterinary team members love to use in practice.

Algorithms are reviewed regularly to determine whether existing content needs to be updated or new algorithms need to be commissioned.

The algorithms in Plumb’s Pro™ are the ideal decision-making tool for visual or procedural thinkers. And they’re just one of the essential practice tools our team included in Plumb’s Pro™.

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.