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Publication Detail
Communicating decisions about care with patients and companions in emergency department consultations
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Cooper S, Stevenson F
  • Publisher:
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Health Expectations
  • Medium:
  • Status:
  • Country:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    decision-making, emergency department, junior doctors, patient communication, triadic communication
  • Notes:
    © 2022 The Authors. Health Expectations published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
INTRODUCTION: This paper explores doctor-patient and companion communication about care decisions in a UK emergency department (ED). Doctors interface between patients and healthcare systems and facilitate access to care across a range of encounters, drawing on information and authority to make and communicate clinical care decisions. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We explored characteristics of communication through ethnographic observation of 16 video-recorded case studies of ED consultations (average length: 1 h) collected over 6 months. Companions were present in 10 cases. We conducted a framework analysis to understand the roles of doctors, consultants, patients and companions in relaying ED care decisions. FINDINGS: We present two cases to reflect companion roles and their effect on the consultation. The urgency for care and scarcity of resources means clinicians justify decisions and strategize to move patients along ED pathways. DISCUSSION: Everyday care interactions between patients and doctors are goal-oriented and companions participate by providing case information, querying decisions and advocating for care. Our findings reflect how doctors justify decisions made in communicating the next steps in ways that characterize the clinical encounter. CONCLUSION: By exploring everyday interactions our study contributes to a growing understanding of patient-clinician and companion communication in the ED. PATIENT OR PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION: Patients and caregivers voluntarily participated in data collection and consented to video recordings being conducted of ED consultations between them and junior doctors. There was extensive consultation with all grades of staff about the acceptability of the work and the best way to conduct it to minimize the impact on patients and staff. Through this manuscript, we have demonstrated the presence and important role of companions. On reflection it would have been valuable to have included patients and companions in discussions about the work; however, this project was conducted with very limited funding and no resources were committed to patient and public involvement. Given the setting and scope of the study, it was not feasible to involve patients or members of the public in other stages of the research or preparation of the manuscript. We recognize this as a potential limitation of the work.
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