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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Misleading one detail: a preventable mode of diagnostic error?

Arzy S, Brezis M, Khoury S, et al. Journal of evaluation in clinical practice. 2009;15:804-6.

Diagnostic errors frequently occur because of cognitive errors on the part of physicians. This study used case vignettes to vividly illustrate one specific cognitive error, the "framing effect," whereby a clinician places undue emphasis on a single (often extraneous) piece of information. Inclusion of a single misleading detail resulted in experienced clinicians making significantly more diagnostic errors. The process of meta-cognition, or "thinking about thinking," is often used to attempt to overcome this and other biases in clinical decision-making. An AHRQ WebM&M perspective explores issues related to cognitive errors in diagnosis.