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Which Decision Support Tools Do You Most Often Recommend?


There are a lot of protocols referenced in your seminar and on your website. Do you have favorites? What are the pros and cons of each?


My favorite protocols are written by Dale Woodke and published by Ambulatory Innovations. They're terrific and have several features that I think are especially helpful. Features that I especially like about those include:

  1. They're written FOR nurses, BY nurses
  2. They utilize the nursing process and encourage a systematic assessment
  3. They are comprehensive, covering Adult, OB/Gyn and Pediatrics
  4. They are customizable for your practice
  5. They're available on paper or electronically
  6. They include a good deal of “topic information” on each protocol, supplementing knowledge deficits for the nurse
  7. They're flexible, with dispositions of “Today” and “Same Day/Next Day”, giving the nurse “wiggle room” to exercise nursing judgment. Likewise, they often offer options of where to send the patient, occasionally listing Office, Urgent Care and Emergency Department as acceptable options, allowing the nurse to exercise judgment and consider specific circumstances in making a disposition that's right for the patient.
  8. They promote (rather than discourage) critical thinking, identifying disease processes that should be considered rather than relying exclusively on symptoms to direct disposition.
  9. They're available in both 3 ring and spiral formats.

If you select these, I'd suggest that you purchase them in the 3 (2) ring binder format and then customize them… putting your most common chief complaints in one binder, using the alpha tabbed dividers provided and putting all the others (the ones you might need (but probably won't very often, like snake bite, etc) in the other binder. That gives you an essentially “customized” version to use on your desk and allows you to put the others on the shelf nearby for use if necessary. And if you like the spiral format, you can take this customized set to a printer (Kinkos, Office Depot, etc) to get it spiral bound for a nominal cost.

Contact info for Ambulatory Innovations is below. Just tell him you want the Woodke protocols (specify 3 ring or spiral and which categories (Adult/OB/Peds). He'll know what you're talking about.

800-367-9180 |

Of course, there are other very good protocols on the market… And it's really just a matter of preference. Briggs, Wheeler, Lafferty/Baird, Schmitt, Thompson, and Simonsen all make sets you might want to take a look at. And there are a few specialty protocols available as well. You can get information on these and more on the Resources: Protocols page of this website.