The Ergonomics of Clinical Diagnosis in an Intensive Care Ward

  • D. E. M. Taylor


Ergonomics is a term of somewhat doubtful etymology formed from analogy with economics. It was originally used in a treatise ascribed to Aristotle entitled “ τα οικονομικα ” which dealt with household management: on this basis ergonomics may be considered as work management, rather than work efficiency. Therefore this paper will deal with those factors which will assist in optimum patient management from the clinical point of view. The second part of the title also requires explanation and modification, for clinical diagnosis, in the sense of deciding on a unique pathology, is seldom necessary for adequate patient care in an intensive care unit. The number of items of information on which to base a clinical decision in an emergency, or semi-emergency, is limited and there is an almost equally small set of possible therapeutic interventions each of which may be applicable to a number of different causes. Therefore decisions on therapy are taken largely on a judgement of maximal pay-off; that is, a therapeutic intervention is chosen which will be beneficial in a number of given causes of an observed clinical anomaly, and if inappropriate the adverse effects will be minimal.


Diagnosis Treatment Optimum Patient Management Intensive CARE Ward Previous Entry Peripheral Laboratory 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. E. M. Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal College of Surgeons of EnglandLondonUK

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