How do doctors in training react to seizures?

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Background and aims: There are scant data on how doctors approach seizures in the acute setting. We sought to study (a) exposure to seizure disorders as well as relevant training and (b) reactions to seizures in the acute setting, among medical residents undergoing physician training. 

Methods: The exposure to and training on seizure disorders were assessed using a structured questionnaire first. Then, they were tested with 20 videos consisting of 10 epileptic seizures (ESs) and 10 psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNESs). After each video, we asked three questions to test (a) the diagnosis and the practice of administration of benzodiazepines to terminate the seizure, (b) the estimation of seizure duration, and (c) the practice of intubation. The accuracy of diagnosis was measured by the area under the summary receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC). The difference between true seizure duration and estimated duration was evaluated using paired-sample t-test. Results: A total of 48 trainees participated in the study. The majority witnessed seizures in movies (37, 77.1%) and television (35, 72.9%). Only 12 (25%) received bedside teaching on seizure disorders. Their diagnostic accuracy of seizures was very poor (AUC = 0.54). Participants significantly underestimated the duration of seizures. Thirty-five doctors made an illogical decision to intubate but not to terminate the seizure with intravenous benzodiazepine. 

Conclusions: The diagnostic accuracy of seizures is poor among trainees, and their estimates of seizure duration are unreliable. Our study highlights potential pitfalls in the acute management of seizures and the need for more training on seizure disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-109
Number of pages6
JournalEpilepsy & Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Acute treatment of seizures
  • Epilepsy semiology
  • Medical education
  • Movies
  • Neurophobia
  • Television
  • Video-EEG use in epilepsy

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