Appropriate use

Use algorithms

Use algorithms are visual schemes or "decision trees" for use in making classifications or to identify a condition, as well as to guide appropriate interventions such as treatment or referral. They consist of questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no," and arrows to direct the reader to a next, greater level of detail, depending on the answer given. In health care settings, algorithms are often used to identify the causative agent of disease and to assign an appropriate therapeutic regimen. Some algorithms are excellent when used in clinical practice, while others are less accurate and need improvement.

Rapid diagnostic tests may be used in the context of a larger scheme of diagnostic algorithms to allow for more accurate diagnosis of disease. Other elements of a diagnostic algorithm can include behavioral, biological, or genetic risk factors for a disease; clinical signs and symptoms; and use of other rapid or non-rapid tests. Use algorithms consider a number of factors such as disease incidence and prevalence, the availability and accuracy of other screening or confirmatory tests, and the probable consequences of misdiagnosis. Because these factors can vary over place and time, use algorithms may be population specific and need to be updated periodically, Guidelines may be available from International health agencies as well as at the National level.

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