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The University of Southampton

HLTH6204 Diagnostic Assessment and Decision Making (Advanced Critical Care Practitioner)

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically explore the concept of clinical diagnosis with reference to history, culture and professional identity within the context of critical care
  • Demonstrate the ability to articulate diagnostic reasoning with reference to underpinning clinical science and the psychological component of disease and illness including: a epidemiology b pathophysiology c clinical measurement d uncertainty, probability, risk and safety
  • Critically apply underpinning life science in the selection and interpretation of diagnostic tests
  • Critically appraise the contribution, accuracy and costs of clinical tests to inform differential diagnoses.
  • Justify your clinical decisions by drawing on theoretical principles and your practical experience including critical use of evidence from policy and practice


You will have completed the history taking and physical assessment module, which considers health assessment from a broad multi-professional viewpoint, focusing on discrimination of ‘normal’ vs ‘abnormal’ findings. This module will focus more specifically on variants from the normal (the pathophysiological) and explore concepts of diagnosis. Through a variety of learning methods it will bring you into contact with active clinicians and with researchers who are engaged in constructing diagnostic tools as well as their use in clinical practice. The module is based on the hypothesis that both a quantitative and a qualitative understanding of clinical reasoning and decision making makes for a better diagnostician. It is aligned with section 3.5 of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine curriculum for Advanced Critical Care Practitioner (2015). Definitions and models of clinical diagnosis – historical, cross professional and cross cultural perspectives Decision making theory and its application to diagnostic reasoning and decision-making The role of clinical testing within a consultation: history, examination and laboratory in the critically ill adult Analysing the costs and benefits of clinical testing The accuracy of diagnostic testing: sensitivity, specificity, predictive value, risk and probability. Applied clinical life science with a focus on pathophysiology Clinical testing: haematology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, principles of imaging, pathology, functional measurement and cardiovascular investigations Designing clinical tools. Exploration of the importance of clinical context in diagnostic decision making with reference to service users’ perceptions, beliefs, aspirations, concerns, expectations and views. Awareness of developing technologies such as focused echocardiograghy and lung ultrasound that are being employed within the critical care environment

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

On line materials for life science preparation and other may include Lectures on key themes Study groups Blackboard and other on-line materials Case based clinical scenarios using laboratory results Facilitated discussion online/Professional conversations delivered in the classroom Work based activities Guided reading

Independent Study200
Total study time250

Resources & Reading list

Sox H, Higgins M, Owens D  (2013). Medical Decision Making . 

Bersten, A. Handy, J.  (2018). Oh's Intensive Care Medicine. 

Higgins C . Understanding Laboratory Investigations: A guide for nurses and health professionals . 

Parfrey, P. Barrett, B. (2018). Clinical Epidemiology: Practice and Methods. 



Essay proposal


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 70%
Exam  (90 minutes) 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 70%
Exam  (90 minutes) 30%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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