Cognitive aids in the management of clinical emergencies: a systematic review.
Greig PR., Zolger D., Onwochei DN., Thurley N., Higham H., Desai N.
Clinical emergencies can be defined as unpredictable events that necessitate immediate intervention. Safety critical industries have acknowledged the difficulties of responding to such crises. Strategies to improve human performance and mitigate its limitations include the provision and use of cognitive aids, a family of tools that includes algorithms, checklists and decision aids. This systematic review evaluates the usefulness of cognitive aids in clinical emergencies. Following a systematic search of the electronic databases, we included 13 randomised controlled trials, reported in 16 publications. Each compared cognitive aids with usual care in the context of an anaesthetic, medical, surgical or trauma emergency involving adults. Most trials used only clinicians in the development and testing of the cognitive aids, and only some trials provided familiarisation with the cognitive aids before they were deployed. The primary outcome was the completeness of care delivered to the patient. Cognitive aids were associated with a reduction in the incidence of missed care steps from 43.3% to 11% (RR (95%CI) 0.29 (0.16-0.15); p