Managing Interruptions to Improve Diagnostic Decision-Making: Strategies and Recommended Research Agenda

J Gen Intern Med. 2023 May;38(6):1526-1531. doi: 10.1007/s11606-022-08019-w. Epub 2023 Jan 25.


Interruptions are an inevitable occurrence in health care. Interruptions in diagnostic decision-making are no exception and can have negative consequences on both the decision-making process and well-being of the decision-maker. This may result in inaccurate or delayed diagnoses. To date, research specific to interruptions on diagnostic decision-making has been limited, but strategies to help manage the negative impacts of interruptions need to be developed and implemented. In this perspective, we first present a modified model of interruptions to visualize the interruption process and illustrate where potential interventions can be implemented. We then consider several empirically tested strategies from the fields of health care and cognitive psychology that can lay the groundwork for additional research to mitigate effects of interruptions during diagnostic decision-making. We highlight strategies to minimize the negative impacts of interruptions as well as strategies to prevent interruptions altogether. Additionally, we build upon these strategies to propose specific research priorities within the field of diagnostic safety. Identifying effective interventions to help clinicians better manage interruptions has the potential to minimize diagnostic errors and improve patient outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Decision-Making*
  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • Humans