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Will you be misdiagnosed? -- how diagnostic errors happen
Date:4/28/2008

New York, April 28, 2008 How frequently do doctors misdiagnose patients? While research has demonstrated that the great majority of medical diagnoses are correct, the answer is probably higher than patients expect and certainly higher than doctors realize. In a Supplement to the May issue of The American Journal of Medicine, a collection of articles and commentaries sheds light on the causes underlying misdiagnoses and demonstrates a nontrivial rate of diagnostic error that ranges from <5% in the perceptual specialties (pathology, radiology, dermatology) up to 10% to 15% in many other fields.

The sensitive issue of diagnostic error is rarely discussed and has been understudied. The papers in this volume confirm the extent of diagnostic errors and suggest improvement will best come by developing systems to provide physicians with better feedback on their own errors.

Guest Editors Mark L. Graber, MD, FACP (Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Northport, NY and Department of Medicine, SUNY Stony Book) and Eta S. Berner, EdD (School of Health Professions, University of Alabama at Birmingham) oversaw the development and compilation of these papers. Drs. Berner and Graber conducted an extensive literature review concerning teaching, learning, reasoning and decision making as they relate to diagnostic error and overconfidence and developed a framework for strategies to address the problem.

They write, Given that physicians overall are highly dedicated and well-intentioned, we believe that if they were more aware of these factors and their own predisposition to error, they would adopt behaviors and attitudes that would help decrease the likelihood of diagnostic error. Being confident even when in error is an inherent human trait, and physicians are no exception. The fact that most of their diagnoses are correct, and that effective feedback regarding their errors is lacking, reinforces this inclination. When directly questioned, many clinicia
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Contact: Pamela Poppalardo
ajmmedia@elsevier.com
212-633-3944
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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