Background: Diagnostic error and delay are critical impediments to the safety of critically ill patients. Checklist for early recognition and treatment of acute illness and injury (CERTAIN) has been developed as a tool that facilitates timely and error-free evaluation of critically ill patients. While the focused history is an essential part of the CERTAIN framework, it is not clear how best to choreograph this step in the process of evaluation and treatment of the acutely decompensating patient. Methods: An un-blinded crossover clinical simulation study was designed in which volunteer critical care clinicians (fellows and attendings) were randomly assigned to start with either obtaining a focused history choreographed in series (after) or in parallel to the primary survey. A focused history was obtained using the standardized SAMPLE model that is incorporated into American College of Trauma Life Support (ATLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). Clinicians were asked to assess six acutely decompensating patients using pre - determined clinical scenarios (three in series choreography, three in parallel). Once the initial choreography was completed the clinician would crossover to the alternative choreography. The primary outcome was the cognitive burden assessed through the NASA task load index. Secondary outcome was time to completion of a focused history. Results: A total of 84 simulated cases (42 in parallel, 42 in series) were tested on 14 clinicians. Both the overall cognitive load and time to completion improved with each successive practice scenario, however no difference was observed between the series versus parallel choreographies. The median (IQR) overall NASA TLX task load index for series was 39 (17 - 58) and for parallel 43 (27 - 52), p = 0.57. The median (IQR) time to completion of the tasks in series was 125 (112 - 158) seconds and in parallel 122 (108 - 158) seconds, p = 0.92. Conclusion: In this clinical simulation study assessing the incorporation of a focused history into the primary survey of a non-trauma critically ill patient, there was no difference in cognitive burden or time to task completion when using series choreography (after the exam) compared to parallel choreography (concurrent with the primary survey physical exam). However, with repetition of the task both overall task load and time to completion improved in each of the choreographies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine