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Cognitive Debiasing

Posted By Bill Thatcher, Thursday, September 19, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Croskerry P, Singhal G, Mamede S. Cognitive debiasing-part 1 and part 2. BMJ Qual Saf. 2013;22(sup2):58-72.

Experienced diagnosticians rely on heuristics - rules of thumb - to recognize clinical patterns and establish diagnoses efficiently. However, this process can lead to diagnostic error, as numerous cognitive biases can adversely affect the diagnostic reasoning process. This two-part series reviews the psychological origins of cognitive biases, examines the theoretical basis behind "debiasing" approaches (strategies for averting specific cognitive biases), and proposes a framework for preventing diagnostic errors through educational and systems-based approaches. Two of the most common cognitive biases, premature closure (diagnosing a patient on the basis of preliminary or incomplete information) and anchoring (failing to reconsider a provisional diagnosis in the face of conflicting information) are vividly illustrated in an AHRQ WebM&M commentary. Dr. Pat Croskerry, the lead author of these articles, was interviewed by AHRQ WebM&M in 2010.

[Annotation reprinted with permission of AHRQ PSNet. Available at:]

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