What Is a Medical Protocol?

Dictionary Definition

According to Merriam Webster, one meaning of the word protocol is "a detailed plan of a scientific or medical experiment, treatment or procedure."

Treatment Protocol

One type of medical protocol is a treatment protocol, or a series of steps that experts recommend for treating a particular ailment. For example, to treat a certain type of cancer, a treatment protocol would specify what combination of drugs, radiation and other therapies should be used.


Doctors, nurses and other health professionals use medical protocols to provide standardized care in various medical settings.


Medical protocols can be shared among medical professionals in the U.S. and around the world. For example, the new medical protocol to prevent bloodstream infections developed at the Johns Hopkins University by Dr. Peter Pronovost could be shared by the U.S. with other countries.

Peer Review

In medical journals, medical professionals can publish their medical protocols as new research or best practices after their findings have been reviewed by peers or by medical professionals of the same medical specialty. A medical protocol is a series of steps followed by one or more medical professionals in a medical setting. In each medical specialty, experts can recommend the steps to be followed for a certain procedure or process, such as providing a clinical medical treatment. Other practitioners can duplicate those steps as effective practice of medicine.