Physicians' cognitive errors and their liability consequences

J Healthc Risk Manag. Fall 1998;18(4):62-9. doi: 10.1002/jhrm.5600180407.


Diagnostic errors account for one-fifth of lawsuits against hospitals and physicians. Of greatest concern is the rising severity of lawsuits alleging diagnostic errors--over a 12-year period the average indemnity for these claims has risen by 258%. The hospital departments most affected are the emergency room, obstetrics, radiology and pathology. This article probes the structure of diagnostic errors and makes recommendations how to reduce the frequency and severity of these claims.

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Diagnosis, Differential*
  • Diagnostic Errors / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Liability, Legal*
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Hospital
  • Pathology Department, Hospital
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Physicians / standards*
  • Radiology Department, Hospital
  • Risk Management / organization & administration
  • United States