Listen: Diagnostic reasoning and cognitive error

Date published:
22 Dec 2017

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis occurs in 10 to 15 per cent of acute presentations, although fortunately only a tenth of these lead to serious consequences. ​This figure has not changed in three decades, despite progress in clinical knowledge.

Listen to the first of two Pomegranate Health episodes about errors in diagnostic reasoning to find out more. Guests on this episode are Dr Nicolas Szecket FRACP and Dr Arthur Nahill FRACP.

Errors in diagnostic reasoning occur at the same rate in senior clinicians as they do in juniors, even though mistakes from poor examination or knowledge become less frequent as one gains experience.

Compared to problems in maths or physics, diagnostic problems are thought of as ill-structured: because information isn’t readily available, the problem can keep changing and often you’re not certain you’ve reached a solution and are free to stop searching.

Cognitive errors result from jumping to conclusions on the basis of intuition and incomplete information. There are a hundred different types of such bias. On this episode, the most common types will be discussed, as well as strategies to force a more considered process of diagnostic reasoning.

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