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Diagnostic Decision-Making in the Emergency Department.

Medford-Davis LN, Singh H, Mahajan P. Diagnostic Decision-Making in the Emergency Department. Pediatric Clinics of North America. 2018 Dec 1; 65(6):1097-1105.

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Emergency medicine requires diagnosing unfamiliar patients with undifferentiated acute presentations. This requires hypothesis generation and questioning, examination, and testing. Balancing patient load, care across the severity spectrum, and frequent interruptions create time pressures that predispose humans to fast thinking or cognitive shortcuts, including cognitive biases. Diagnostic error is the failure to establish an accurate and timely explanation of the problem or communicate that to the patient, often contributing to physical, emotional, or financial harm. Methods for monitoring diagnostic error in the emergency department are needed to establish frequency and serve as a foundation for future interventions.

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