Clinical decision rules in primary care: necessary investments for sustainable healthcare

Jorn S. Heerink, Ruud Oudega, Rogier Hopstaken, Hendrik Koffijberg, Ron Kusters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Clinical judgement in primary care is more often decisive than in the hospital. Clinical decision rules (CDRs) can help general practitioners facilitating the work-through of differentials that follows an initial suspicion, resulting in a concrete ‘course of action’: a ‘rule-out’ without further testing, a need for further testing, or a specific treatment. However, in daily primary care, the use of CDRs is limited to only a few isolated rules. In this paper, we aimed to provide insight into the laborious path required to implement a viable CDR. At the same time, we noted that the limited use of CDRs in primary care cannot be explained by implementation barriers alone. Through the case study of the Oudega rule for the exclusion of deep vein thrombosis, we concluded that primary care CDRs come out best if they are tailor-made, taking into consideration the specific context of primary health care. Current CDRs should be evaluated frequently, and future decision rules should anticipate the latest developments such as the use of point-of-care (POC) tests. Hence, such new powerful diagnostic CDRs could improve and expand the possibilities for patient-oriented primary care.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere34
Number of pages7
JournalPrimary health care research & development
Early online date2 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Clinical decision rule (CDR)
  • D-dimer
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Oudega rule
  • Point-of-care
  • Wells rule
  • UT-Gold-D


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