Clinical Decision Making

'Decision making is an integral part of all of our lives. Some decisions are relatively trivial: should I have tea or coffee with breakfast? Whilst others are much more involved: what should I say to my friend whose child has just died?

'The reason the second decision is harder is that it is related not just to cognition or thinking, but it also involves emotions and biases.'(Evidence into Practice)

You and decision making

'In recent years the subject of clinical decision making has been surfaced as important for a number of reasons. Just as in everyday life, clinical practice is rife with decisions to be made. Indeed it has been estimated that perhaps 80% of our time during clinical practice is spent thinking and making decisions and is dependent on context.' (Point of Care)

Spend a few minutes thinking about the key decisions you make at work and the factors that influence these decisions.

Clinical decision making

It is best practice for the clinical decisions that you make to be based on evidence and research

The Point of Care website is designed to support you in effective clinical decision-making. Use the 'Point of Care' links to find information relating to your specific area of work as well as more general information.

Answer the following questions:

  • how you can put what you have read into practice?
  • how this challenges how you currently make clinical decisions?

Spend some time looking at the information available and record and particularly useful information sources for future use. Critically reflect on this and record your reflections for your portfolio.

Discuss your reflections with your mentor.

Making decisions

The quotes in the introduction and 'You and decision making' activity highlighted the role that emotions and biases can sometimes play in making decisions about care.

Identify and record

  • a situation where you have made clinical decisions on an emotional or biased basis
  • your actions
  • the result of this care

Review the key points in a guideline or other piece of evidence that deals with clinical decisions for this situation and identify:

  • what you would do differently
  • how this could impact on the outcome of care

The following resources will help you locate the evidence you need

Critically reflect on what you have recorded. Identify the key messages for your practice and how they will impact on your practice. Discuss your reflections with your mentor and record them in a portfolio entry.