Background: Given that excess opioid prescriptions contribute to the United States opioid epidemic and there are few national opioid prescribing guidelines for the management of acute pain, it is pertinent to determine if prescribers can sufficiently assess their own prescribing practice. The purpose of this study was to investigate podiatric surgeons’ ability to evaluate if their own opioid prescribing practice is less than, near, or above that of an “average” prescriber.
Methods: We administered a scenario-based, voluntary, anonymous, online questionnaire via Qualtrics which consisted of five surgery-based scenarios commonly performed by podiatric surgeons. Respondents were asked the quantity of opioids they would prescribe at the time of surgery. Respondents were also asked to rate their prescribing practice compared to the average (median) podiatric surgeons. We compared self-reported behavior to self-reported perception (“I prescribe less than average,” “I prescribed about average,” and “I prescribe more than average”). ANOVA was used for univariate analysis between the three groups. We used linear regression to adjust for confounders. Data restriction was used to account for restrictive state laws.
Results: One hundred fifteen podiatric surgeons completed the survey from in April 2020. Less than half of the time, respondents accurately identified their own category. Consequently, there were no statistically significant differences between podiatric surgeons who reported that they “prescribe less,” “prescribe about average,” and “prescribe more.” Paradoxically, there was a flip in scenario #5, whereas respondents who reported they “prescribe more” actually prescribed the least and respondents who believed that they “prescribe less” actually prescribed the most.
Conclusions: Cognitive bias, in the form of a novel effect, occurs in postoperative opioid prescribing practice; in the absence of procedure-specific guidelines or an objective standard, podiatric surgeons, more often than not, were unaware of how their own opioid prescribing practice measured up to other podiatric surgeons.
The practice of the clinical podiatrist traditionally focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. Clinical podiatrists are expected to be mindful of “the principles and applications of scientific enquiry.” This includes the evaluation of treatment efficacy and the research process. In contrast, the forensic podiatrist specializes in the analysis of foot-, ankle-, and gait-related evidence in the context of the criminal justice system. Although forensic podiatry is a separate, specialized field, many aspects of this discipline can be useful in the clinical treatment and management of foot and ankle problems. The authors, who are forensic podiatrists, contend that the clinical podiatrist can gain significant insights from the field of forensic podiatry. This article aims to provide clinical podiatrists with an overview of the principles and methods that have been tested and applied by forensic podiatrists in their practice, and suggests that the clinical practice of the nonforensic foot practitioner may benefit from such knowledge.
Clinical reasoning and decision making within health care are as important as ever in a world where evidence-based health care and patient outcomes are highly valued. It is increasingly recognized that decisions are not made in isolation, and are influenced by many factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic. Expert and novice practitioners share reasoning techniques, and there are many interpretations of reasoning paradigms within the field of health care.
A reflective diary was kept for 3 months linking personal reflections on a particular clinical decision with theoretical learning on clinical reasoning. Several decision-making paradigms were looked at in relation to the decision, with a deeper focus on narrative reasoning. Narrative reasoning resonated particularly with the author's previous experience studying literature.
The clinical decision was usefully analyzed using a narrative reasoning strategy. The decision made by the author was perhaps contrary to the evidence, and yet had a positive outcome. The positive outcome of the decision was looked at within the context of evidence-based practice and ethical practice.
Narrative reasoning comes from within the interpretive research model and puts the patient's experience at the heart of decision making. Narrative reasoning can be a valuable way of combining diagnostic, management, and ethical aspects of care. Further research—particularly in podiatry, where research is lacking—could identify helpful reasoning strategies for care of patients with long-term chronic conditions or complex conditions.