Cognitive aids for crisis management in anaesthesiology. Principles and applications

Eismann H, Schild S, Neuhaus C, Baus J, Happel O, Heller AR, Richter T, Weinert M, Sedlmayr B, Sedlmayr M, St. Pierre M (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2020


Book Volume: 61

Pages Range: 239-247

DOI: 10.19224/ai2020.239


Anaesthesiology has witnessed a growing acknowledgement of the fact that stress can have a negative impact on individual cognitive function and effective team performance. Cognitive aids such as checklists have come to be viewed as promising tools in the management of critical events. While checklists have been an integral part of the safety strategy in aviation for many decades, there has been little progress in establishing related concepts in anaesthesiology. Reasons for this reluctance are the lack of usability of the cognitive aids developed and the fact that these cognitive artefacts do not support established treatment processes. The main reason, however, are the different system properties of technical devices and biological systems. While it is possible to define the one best way of solving a technical problem and translate this knowledge into a linear checklist, the behaviour of biological systems is dynamic and adaptive, which makes it impossible to predict with certainty the cause of a pathophysiological disturbance and define the single best way to solve a problem. Rather than being restricted to a linear checklist, cognitive aids can improve emergency management by helping experienced teams to remember and excel. The German Cognitive Aid Working Group of the Professional Association of German Anaesthesiologists (BDA) and the German Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine (DGAI) has developed a digital cognitive aid for intraoperative emergencies in an iterative user-centred design process. the future challenge will be to understand the physical, cognitive and social aspects of implementing the cognitive aid into established processes of crisis management in anaesthesia.

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Eismann, H., Schild, S., Neuhaus, C., Baus, J., Happel, O., Heller, A.R.,... St. Pierre, M. (2020). Cognitive aids for crisis management in anaesthesiology. Principles and applications. Anästhesiologie & Intensivmedizin, 61, 239-247.


Eismann, H., et al. "Cognitive aids for crisis management in anaesthesiology. Principles and applications." Anästhesiologie & Intensivmedizin 61 (2020): 239-247.

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