How certain are you, doctor?

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2011 Jan;12(1):71-2. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0b013e3181e2a4cd.


Objective: To argue that pediatric intensive care physicians have difficulties in responding to parental questions about prognostic certainty, and that this constitutes a failure in their professional responsibility to parents.

Conclusions: These difficulties arise from three sources: 1) the structure and organization of contemporary intensive care, 2) the neglect of prognostication, and 3) the failure to distinguish scientific certainty from practical certainty. It is proposed that an understanding of these issues will enable physicians to respond to the parental question "How certain are you, doctor?" with more authenticity and sincerity.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric / organization & administration*
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Physician's Role
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Prognosis
  • Truth Disclosure*