Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Doctors' 'gut feeling' should not be ignored, study suggests

Date:
September 25, 2012
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Doctors who experience a gut feeling about serious illness when treating a child in primary care should take action upon this feeling and not ignore it, a study suggests.

Doctors who experience a gut feeling about serious illness when treating a child in primary care should take action upon this feeling and not ignore it, a study published today on bmj.com suggests.

Serious infection can easily be missed in young children and making a diagnosis has been described as "like finding a needle in a haystack." A clinician's intuitive feeling that something is wrong, even after examination that suggests otherwise, appears to have diagnostic value, even greater diagnostic value than most symptoms and signs. Studies have suggested it should be seen as highly important in its own right but there is lack of understanding about whether it can be seen as useful.

Researchers from Oxford and Belgium therefore carried out an observational study on 3890 children between the ages of 0-16 years who presented in primary care in Flanders, Belgium in 2004. They wanted to see what added value gut feeling provides to a diagnosis. Factors recorded included the doctor's overall impression and whether gut feeling suggested something more serious was wrong. Gut feeling was defined as "intuitive feeling that something was wrong even if the clinician was unsure why."

Out of the 3369 children assessed as having a non-severe illness at the time of consultation, six (0.2%) were later admitted to hospital with a serious infection. Results show that acting on gut feeling had the potential to prevent two of the six cases being missed at the cost of 44 false alarms, but that these were not "unmanageable." The probability of a serious infection decreased from 0.2% to 0.1% when gut feeling was absent.

In fact, 21 out of the 3890 children were eventually admitted to hospital with a serious infection and nine were not referred at first contact. However, in four of the nine children, the doctor had a gut feeling that something serious was wrong.

The feature most strongly associated with gut feeling was a history of convulsions and the child's overall appearance and breathing.The authors also found that gut feeling is strongly influenced by parental concern that the illness is different. Finally, less experienced clinicians reported it more frequently than their more senior counterparts. However, the diagnostic power of gut feeling was no better in experienced than non-experienced clinicians.

The authors recommend that medical teaching should make clear that an "inexplicable gut feeling is an important diagnostic sign and a very good reason for seeking the opinion of someone with more paediatric expertise or performing additional testing." They say that gut feeling should make three things mandatory: conducting a full and careful examination; seeking advice from a more experienced clinician and providing the parent with safety netting advice. They conclude that clinicians should not ignore gut feeling and use it in decision making.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Van den Bruel, M. Thompson, F. Buntinx, D. Mant. Clinicians' gut feeling about serious infections in children: observational study. BMJ, 2012; 345 (sep25 2): e6144 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e6144

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Doctors' 'gut feeling' should not be ignored, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925183630.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2012, September 25). Doctors' 'gut feeling' should not be ignored, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925183630.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Doctors' 'gut feeling' should not be ignored, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925183630.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) After four months in the hospital, the first quintuplets to be born at Baylor University Medical Center head home. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) A U.S. aid worker infected with Ebola while working in West Africa will be treated in a high security ward at Emory University in Atlanta. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins