Mind the overlap: how system problems contribute to cognitive failure and diagnostic errors.

Link to article at PubMed

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Mind the overlap: how system problems contribute to cognitive failure and diagnostic errors.

Diagnosis (Berl). 2018 Jul 14;:

Authors: Gupta A, Harrod M, Quinn M, Manojlovich M, Fowler KE, Singh H, Saint S, Chopra V

Abstract
Background Traditionally, research has examined systems- and cognitive-based sources of diagnostic error as individual entities. However, half of all errors have origins in both domains. Methods We conducted a focused ethnography of inpatient physicians at two academic institutions to understand how systems-based problems contribute to cognitive errors in diagnosis. Medicine teams were observed on rounds and during post-round work after which interviews were conducted. Field notes related to the diagnostic process and the work system were recorded, and findings were organized into themes. Using deductive content analysis, themes were categorized based on a published taxonomy to link systems-based contributions and cognitive errors such as faulty data gathering, information processing, data verification and errors associated with multiple domains. Results Observations, focus groups and interviews of 10 teams were conducted between January 2016 and April 2017. The following themes were identified: (1) challenges with interdisciplinary communication and communication within the electronic medical record (EMR) contributed to faulty data gathering; (2) organizational structures such as the operation of consulting services in silos promoted faulty information processing; (3) care handoffs led to faulty data verification and (4) interruptions, time constraints and a cluttered physical environment negatively influenced multiple cognitive domains. Conclusions Systems-based factors often facilitate and promote cognitive problems in diagnosis. Linking systems-based contributions to downstream cognitive impacts and intervening on both in tandem may help prevent diagnostic errors.

PMID: 30007056 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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