• Study
  • Published October 2009

Misleading one detail: a preventable mode of diagnostic error?

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.

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