Clinicians Checklist

Clinician Checklists

Many physicians already use checklists for surgeries, central line insertions, and other processes, leading to improvements in the quality and safety of medical care. Diagnostic checklists can help, too!


There are a wealth of checklists—which are used today throughout the medical field, and many other industries—that are specifically geared to helping support clinicians in their cognitive process for making a diagnosis.

Process Checklists address common cognitive challenges that contribute to diagnostic error.

Content Checklists explore the most common diagnoses for any given symptom.

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.


A General Checklist
Mark L Graber et al (6)
A Process Checklist
William Follansbee et al.- University of Pittsburgh
A General Checklist
Timothy Krohe
Ten Commandments to Reduce Cognitive Errors
Leo Leonidas
The SAFER Checklist
Robert Trowbridge
The THINK Checklist
Lara Kothari
Attribution unknown
TAKE 2 – Think, DO
Clinical Excellence Commission
Red Team – Blue Team
New South Wales Australia
Red Team – Blue Team
New South Wales Australia
Amanda Walker, Clinical Director;Tracy Clark,Project Lead


Checklist References

  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.




Content Checklists

These checklists help bring to mind the most common diagnoses for any given symptom. The set of specific checklists developed by Dr. John Ely were based on symptoms commonly seen in the practice of family medicine.

Symptom-Specific Diagnostic Checklists – John Ely
The Diagnostic Checklist has been updated with new lists of Presenting Complaints and Possible Diagnoses compiled by Dr. Ely with funding from SIDM.







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