Wherever staff are very busy, medical care can be expedited by using treatment protocols. They are basically a predetermined set of orders aimed at a particular disease. These protocols facilitate the writing and implementation of orders. They should be based on what is practical and appropriate given the individual facility's resources and the kinds of diseases frequently seen. For example, a kwashiorkor protocol may specify nutritional supplementation, feeding schedules, selected laboratory studies and nutritional monitoring. A tuberculosis protocol may include appropriate testing as well as a predetermined drug regimen based on age or weight.

Such protocols are particularly handy where staff speak different languages and where diagnostic and treatment resources are limited. For example, a volunteer doctor most comfortable in English will be able to communicate accurately with Kreyol speaking nurses. Likewise, time will not be wasted trying to comply with diagnostic or treatment requests which are not practical to implement under local conditions.

Much time and effort can be saved by consulting local health care facilities regarding their protocols. National, regional or specialty facilities are often quite willing to share these protocols which can then be adapted or adopted for local use.

Obviously, all medical care cannot be reduce to a "cookbook" of protocols. But when the clinician is faced daily with overwhelming numbers of patients the streamlining of paperwork and treatment regimens becomes essential.