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Decision-making in ICU –An analysis of the ICU admission decision-making process using the 20-Questions Game

P D Gopalan, S Pershad, B J Pillay

Abstract


Background. Deciding to admit a patient into the intensive care unit (ICU) is a high-stakes, high-stress, time-sensitive process. Elucidating the complexities of these decisions can contribute to a more efficient, effective process.

Objectives. To explore physicians’ strategic thought processes in ICU triage decisions and identify important factors. Methods. Practitioners (N=29) were asked to decide on ICU referrals of two hypothetic cases using a modified ‘20 Questions’ approach. Demographic data, decisions when full information was available, feedback on questions, rating of factors previously identified as important and influence of faith and personality traits were explored.

Results. Of the 735 questions asked, 95.92% were patient related. There were no significant differences in interview variables between the two cases or with regard to presentation order. The overall acceptance rate was 68.96%. Refusals were associated with longer interview times (p=0.014), as were lower ICU bed capacity (p=0.036), advancing age of the practitioner (p=0.040) and a higher faith score (p=0.004). Faith score correlated positively with the number of questions asked (p=0.028). There were no significant correlations with personality trait stanines. When full information was available, acceptances for Case A decreased (p=0.003) but increased for Case B (p=0.026). The net reclassification improvement index was –0.138 (p=0.248). Non-subspecialists were more likely to change their decisions (p=0.036).

Conclusion. Limiting information to what is considered vital by using a ‘20 Questions’ approach and allowing the receiving practitioner to create the decision frame may assist with ICU admission decisions. Practitioners should consider the metacognitive elements of their decision-making


Authors' affiliations

P D Gopalan, Discipline of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; Intensive Care Unit, King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban, South Africa

S Pershad, Discipline of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; Intensive Care Unit, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Durban, South Africa

B J Pillay, Department of Behavioural Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Cite this article

Southern African Journal of Critical Care 2020;36(1):28-34. DOI:10.7196/SAJCC.2020.v36i1.398

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-07-30
Date published: 2020-07-30

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