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How to read protocol protocol

Revision as of 10:28, 8 February 2021 by Anya (talk | contribs)

This protocol is under review, and has not been accepted.

We are currently gathering feedback and editing this protocol, and there may be errors or bad wording. Please only use this protocol with caution, and if other organisations have definitive protocol, use that instead.

Please see #protocols on Slack to discuss this protocol further.

This page explains how to read protocol in QueerCare.

What is Protocol?

QueerCare (QC) uses a system of principles, policies, and protocol. For a description of what these mean and how they relate to each other, please see the resource Structure of QueerCare Documentation.

Protocol in QC describes how to do a task. These can be aimed externally, such as most of the care, advocacy and First Aid protocol (eg. Activated Charcoal Protocol), or more about how to carry out a task within QueerCare, such as the How Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Leads Respond To Safeguarding Concerns Protocol.

Protocol tells you how to a task safely and reliably. You should read it all before doing the task for the first time, and if the protocol has a note stating you must be trained in the task before carrying it out, you should get trained.

In QC, protocol is stored on the QC Wiki.

Must, Should and Can

Protocol recommendations are based on the key words must, should and can. These all have specific meanings.


If a protocol says you must do something, then you absolutely must do it. It's better not to do a task at all than to do it without following "must" instructions.

You '''must''' apply direct pressure to a massive haemorrhage

These recommendations have clear medical consensus behind them, if they're medical, or are built on overwhelming organisational experience otherwise.


If a protocol says you should do something, then it's almost certainly the best course of action, but there may be exceptions.

For example:

If someone is having a mental health crisis, you should offer them food in almost all cases, except where someone has an eating disorder.

These recommendations generally have significant medical consensus behind them, or are build on significant organisational experience.


If a protocol says you can do something, you should apply your judgement and consider whether it applies under your particular circumstances. Can is used for:

  • methods which have worked for a few people, but have not yet been tested enough to become a should or a must
  • medical recommendations with less research behind them, for example one or two small studies
  • medical recommendations with contradictory evidence behind them
  • recommendations which are very contextual or circumstantial

Should recommendations are often accompanied by can recommendations, to provide other options, all framed within a must. For example:

You must do one of the following, and you should do X, but can do Y or Z