Objective: The purpose of this research was to explore the processes by which pediatric neurosurgeons make intraoperative decisions when they encounter something unexpected or uncertain while they are operating. Methods: The study used the grounded theory method of data collection and analysis. Twenty-six pediatric neurosurgeons (PNs) from 12 countries were interviewed about the process by which they make intraoperative decisions. Data were analyzed line by line, and constant comparison was used to examine relationships within and across codes and categories. Results: PNs described a complex process that existed along a spectrum in making intraoperative decisions. Three types of response processes emerged from the analysis: 1) internal processing, with the themes of getting oneself under control and performing control for the surgical team; 2) action processes that included the themes of stabilizing the patient, responding intuitively/automatically when making decisions, and shifting surgical strategies; and 3) analytical processing that involved assessing the situation, consulting with colleagues and the family of the patient when making intraoperative decisions. Conclusions: The findings from this study contribute novel information on PNs' intraoperative decision making processes and can be used to train resident neurosurgeons about the various components involved in these processes. This research suggests that new models of decision making are needed within the medical and neurosurgical context and inspire a new set of questions about the process by which surgeons make life and death decisions in the operating room.
- Grounded theory
- Intraoperative decision making
- Professional practice