How Often Are You Unsure of Diagnoses?

June 26, 2019

Diagnostic uncertainty is a fact of life, but a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine suggests that physicians tend to underestimate how often they make diagnostic errors.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland conducted a survey of physicians at nine Connecticut internal medicine training programs to learn how they thought about diagnostic uncertainty and error. 

Most respondents believed diagnostic errors to be uncommon (once a month or less), despite half of them reporting that they felt diagnostic uncertainty every day. Previously published figures estimate that diagnostic errors occur in 10% to 15% of all patient encounters.

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