Tools for Clinicians
  • Checklists exist in every industry and setting, whenever a critical process needs to be completed without introducing errors.(1)
  • Similarly, checklists in medicine, as exemplified by surgical checklists, and checklists for central line insertion, have improved the quality and safety of medical care.(2,3,4)
  • Additional research will be needed to validate the impact of these lists on the likelihood of diagnostic errors; they may be helpful in addressing the most common cognitive causes for missing the correct diagnosis, including #1 on that list: “I just didn’t consider it.” (5)

Please contact SIDM at if you have comments on these resources or to add additional checklists as they become available. The checklists are provided for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Publication does not indicate SIDM endorsement.

Process Checklists

These address common cognitive shortcomings that contribute to diagnostic error, as noted in prior research studies

Content Checklists

These help bring to mind the most common diagnoses for any given symptom.


  1. Gawande A. The Checklist Manifesto - How to Get Things Right. New York, NY: Metropolitan Books; Henry Holt and Company, LLC; 2009.
  2. Pronovost P, Needham D, Berenholz S, Sinopoli D, Chu H, Cosgrove S, et al.- An intervention to decrease catheter-related bloodstream infections in the ICU. N Engl J Med. 2006;355:2725-32.
  3. Boat AC, Spaeth JP. Handoff -checklists improve the reliability of patient handoffs in the operating room and postanesthesia care unit. Paediatr Anaesth. 2013;23:647-54.
  4. Haynes AB, Weiser TG, Berry WR, Lipsitz SR, Breizat AHS, et al.- A surgical safety checklist to reduce morbidity and mortality in a global population. N Engl J Med. 2010;360:491-9.
  5. Bordage G.- Why did I miss the diagnosis? Some cognitive explanations and educational implications. Acad Med. 1999;74(10 Suppl):S138-43.
  6. Graber M, Sorensen A, Biswas J, Modi V, Wackett A, Johnson S, et al.- Developing checklists to prevent diagnostic error in Emergency Room settings. Diagnosis. 2014;1(3):223-31.
  7. Ely JW, Graber ML, Croskerry P.- Checklists to reduce diagnostic errors. Academic Medicine. 2011;Mar;86(3):307-13.