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Medical cognitive bias that could cause diagnostic errors

On Behalf of | Jan 15, 2018 | Failure To Diagnose

Medical mistakes and diagnostic errors are common in doctors’ offices, hospitals and other health care facilities in Massachusetts. While some of these errors are benign and easily corrected, others can lead to critical conditions and even death. Failure to diagnose and misdiagnoses are among the most common medical mistakes, and they can have catastrophic consequences for patients and their families.

Working in the medical field comes with a lot of pressure as well as a hectic atmosphere. Mistakes occur for many reasons, and medical personnel cognitive bias may be one cause.

What is cognitive bias? Simply put, it is a thought process error that may influence judgment and decision-making. Everyone engages in cognitive bias, as it is a normal thought process. However, when it results in misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, then it is time to rethink the diagnostic process.

Below are four examples of cognitive biases.

  • Anchoring bias: Relying too heavily on one piece of information when making a diagnosis
  • Availability heuristic: Turning to one’s most readily available memories when solving problems or making decisions
  • Wishful thinking bias: Believing that what one wishes to be true is the actual truth
  • Confirmation bias: Searching for evidence or information to confirm a preconception or belief while dismissing information that challenges the preconception

If you or someone you love suffered harm due to a diagnostic error, it is wise to talk over your case with a medical malpractice lawyer. An attorney can help investigate your claim and identify whether malpractice occurred.

Source: Becker’s Hospital Review, “How 4 types of cognitive bias contribute to physician diagnostic errors — and how to overcome them,” accessed Jan. 15, 2018