‘What the hell is water?’ How to use deliberate clinical inertia in common emergency department situations

Diana Egerton-Warburton, Louise Cullen, Gerben Keijzers, Daniel M. Fatovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Appropriate deliberate clinical inertia refers to the art of doing nothing as a positive clinical response. It includes shared decision-making to improve patient care with the use of clinical judgement. We discuss common clinical scenarios where the use of deliberate clinical inertia can occur. The insertion of peripheral intravenous cannulae, investigating patients with suspected renal colic and the investigation of low risk chest pain are all opportunities for the thoughtful clinician to ‘stand there’ and use effective patient communication to avoid low value tests and procedures. Awareness is key to identifying these opportunities to practice deliberate clinical inertia, as many of the situations may be so much a part of our environment that they are hidden in plain view.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-430
Number of pages5
JournalEMA - Emergency Medicine Australasia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • chest pain
  • low-value care
  • overdiagnosis
  • peripheral intravenous catheter
  • renal colic
  • shared decision-making

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