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Information Management and Decision Processes in Emergency Departments

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: *Formerly at the Department of Communication Studies, Linko¨ping University, Sweden. Most of this work was conducted during the author’s employment at the Department of Communication Studies. Recent research concerning the control of complex systems stresses the systemic character of the work of the controlling system, including the number of people and artefacts as well as the environment. This study adds to the growing body of knowledge by focusing on the internal working of such a system. Our vantage point is the theoretical framework of distributed cognition. Through a field study of an emergency co-ordination centre we try to demonstrate how the team’s cognitive tasks, to assess an event and to dispatch adequate resources, are achieved by mutual awareness, joint situation assessment, and the co-ordinated use of the technology and the physical arrangement of the co-ordination room.
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Anaesthetic information displays have been shown to influence anaesthesiologists’ situation awareness. In study 1 an object display was compared with the traditional display currently used. Twelve anaesthesiologists (residents and faculty members) participated in a simulator evaluation of the displays. Reaction times for detection of critical events and situation awareness were measured. The object display improved situation awareness for one of four test scenarios. Low-level situation awareness was higher with the traditional display, and medium-level situation awareness was higher with the new display. In study 2, an integrated 3D display was compared to the traditional display. Twelve students participated in the evaluation. The new 3D display helped the observers to see changes more rapidly. In one scenario, situation awareness was higher with the new display than with the traditional display. In summary, during 63% of the simulated scenarios, reliable differences were found in favour of the new displays. Thus, by introducing integrated graphical displays in the operating room, anaesthesiologists’ performance may be improved.