Objectives: To categorise questions that emergency department physicians have during patient encounters.
Methods: An observational study of 26 physicians at two institutions. All physicians were followed for at least two shifts. All questions that arose during patient care were recorded verbatim. These questions were then categorised using a taxonomy of clinical questions.
Results: Physicians had 271 questions in the course of the study. The most common questions were about drug dosing (35), what drug to use in a particular case (28), “what are the manifestations of disease X” (23), and what laboratory test to do in a situation (21). Notably lacking were questions about medication costs, administrative questions, questions about services in the community, and pathophysiology questions.
Conclusions: Emergency department physicians tend to have questions that cluster around practical issues such as diagnosis and treatment. In routine practice they have fewer epidemiologic, pathophysiologic, administrative, and community services questions.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Competing interests: None declared.
Mark A Graber helped to design the study, analyse the data, adjudicate question categories, and had primary responsibility for project oversight and writing the paper. Bradley D Randles helped to design the study, collect the data and write the paper. John W Ely helped to design the study, helped to adjudicate question categories, write the paper and helped with study oversight. Jay Monnahan helped to collect the data. Bobby Peters, Charles Jennissen and Dean Anderson helped to categorise the questions.
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