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Clinical decision-making 

Clinical decision-making
Chapter:
Clinical decision-making
Author(s):

Timothy E.A. Peto

, and Philippa Peto

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0006
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date: 27 February 2021

Clinicians make decisions at every stage of the patient pathway. In routine practice complex decisions are often made rapidly using ‘intuition’ or common sense, but this can lead to suboptimal management plans. Clinical decision analysis is a way of formalizing the logical process behind decision-making, and when combined with evidence from medical research is described as the practice of evidence-based medicine. In practice, most clinicians do not have the time, intellectual energy, or training to perform a formal clinical decision analysis and they tend to use short cuts and go for the ‘safe’ decision which is suitable for the ‘average patient’ and often in keeping with guidelines for local practice. However, clinicians who follow the logical process of clinical decision analysis find it easier to live with the uncertainty of an inexact science and subjective wishes of the patient.

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