Don't just do something, stand there! The value and art of deliberate clinical inertia

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


It can be difficult to avoid unnecessary investigations and treatments, which are a form of low-value care. Yet every intervention in medicine has potential harms, which may outweigh the potential benefits. Deliberate clinical inertia is the art of doing nothing as a positive response. This paper provides suggestions on how to incorporate deliberate clinical inertia into our daily clinical practice, and gives an overview of current initiatives such as ‘Choosing Wisely’ and the ‘Right Care Alliance’. The decision to ‘do nothing’ can be complex due to competing factors, and barriers to implementation are highlighted. Several strategies to promote deliberate clinical inertia are outlined, with an emphasis on shared decision-making. Preventing medical harm must become one of the pillars of modern health care and the art of not intervening, that is, deliberate clinical inertia, can be a novel patient-centred quality indicator to promote harm reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
JournalEMA - Emergency Medicine Australasia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


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