via Wall Street Journal
In the emergency room, patients may expect doctors to call all the shots about tests and treatments. But increasingly, ER physicians are asking patients to participate more in critical decisions about care, such as whether to opt for surgery or undergo a scan with radiation exposure.
Making such choices can be daunting for patients and families, but in cases where the diagnosis isn’t life-threatening, there is often more than one reasonable option for care: Many children with uncomplicated acute appendicitis may be successfully treated with antibiotics instead of surgery. Adults with chest pain whose initial test results are negative for a heart attack often don’t need more extensive workups, such as stress tests. A mild head injury may not require a CT scan that exposes patients to radiation.
Now, to help patients and families weigh the evidence and compare risks and benefits, hospitals are developing so-called shared decision-making aids tailored to emergency situations.