Educational strategies to reduce diagnostic error: can you teach this stuff?

Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2009 Sep:14 Suppl 1:63-9. doi: 10.1007/s10459-009-9178-y. Epub 2009 Aug 11.


Diagnostic error typically involves both system-related and cognitive root causes. Educational interventions are proposed to address both of these dimensions: In regard to system-related origins, education should focus on communication skills, including handoffs. In regard to cognitive shortcomings, educators need to consider both normative approaches to decision making, as well as the 'flesh and blood' processes used by experienced clinicians. In the long term, the goal of education should be to promote expertise, based on the assumption that experts make the fewest mistakes. In the short term, education should emphasize the importance of reflective practice, and consider use of a checklist for diagnosis to improve reliability.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Errors / prevention & control*
  • Inservice Training*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Safety Management