chapter  1
18 Pages

Clinical Decision Making

ByElaine Cockram, Siobhan Hicks

Clinical decision making is an integral part of clinical practice. One of the vital functions of an Advanced Practitioner (AP) is to be able to differentiate between patients that need more urgent treatment and assessment from those that don’t. Clinical decision making is a learned skill, which is developed alongside increasing knowledge and experience. It appears different clinicians use various methods to make decisions, albeit mostly unconsciously, and the same clinician may use different methods depending on the complexity of the situation and the familiarity of the clinician with it. What does seem to be apparent is that practitioners require a substantial knowledge of the subject area before safe and effective decisions can be made. It is therefore necessary to have access to resources to facilitate decision making as not all knowledge necessary can be retained. Clinical decision making is not only about the individual clinician and their skills, it is also about the ability of the organisation as a whole to ensure clinical decisions are made with the most up to date evidence available so that quality and equality are attained. This concept, embedded in clinical governance, will be examined in the second half of the chapter. Finally clinical support is also needed from colleagues and the organisation in order to achieve and maintain safe decision making skills.