Clinicians’ gut feeling about serious infections in children

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

An observational study was done by Ann Van den Bruel et al. to investigate the basis and added value of clinicians’ “gut feeling” that infections in children are more serious than suggested by clinical assessment. The participants were consecutive series of 3890 children and young people aged 0-16 years presenting in primary care. The authors published their study in BMJ 2012. Their conclusions were: a gut feeling about the seriousness of illness in children is an instinctive response by clinicians to the concerns of the parents and the appearance of the children. It should trigger action such as seeking a second opinion or further investigations. The observed association between intuition and clinical markers of serious infection means that by reflecting on the genesis of their gut feeling, clinicians should be able to hone their clinical skills.