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Front Med. 2012 Mar;6(1):89-93. doi: 10.1007/s11684-012-0183-9. Epub 2012 Mar 31.

Clinical decision-making by the emergency department resident physicians for critically ill patients.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing 100730, China.


The application of main methodologies for clinical decision-making by residents in emergency medical practice was assessed, and issues in this area were investigated. The treatments provided to 2 611 critical patients by the Emergency Department of Peking Union Medical College Hospital were analyzed by independent investigators who evaluated the main clinical decision-making processes applied by the hospital residents. The application of decision-making strategies by PG1 and PG3 groups, which means the residents in first year and the third year, were compared. The patients were treated according to pattern recognition (43.0%), hypothetico-deductive reasoning (23.4%), event-driven models (19.3%), and rule-using algorithms (5.9%). A significant difference was found between PG1 and PG3 groups (χ(2)= 498.01, P < 0.001). Pattern recognition and hypothetic-deductive methods were the most common techniques applied by emergency physicians in evaluating critically ill patients. The decision-making processes applied by junior and senior residents were significantly different, although neither group adequately applied rule-using algorithms. Inclusion of clinical decision-making in medical curricula is needed to improve decision-making in critical care.

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