Children's Hospital Colorado

Cognitive Error in Pediatric Diagnosis (S2:E31)

Misdiagnosis is common in medicine and poses serious risks to patients. Primary care physicians (PCPs) can prevent many diagnostic errors by becoming more aware of their own thinking process.

PCPs need to understand how they are selecting, rejecting and synthesizing information. This will help them reduce their rate of cognitive error in pediatric diagnosis. Practical strategies allow PCPs to see their way through common traps like fixating on one piece of information or allowing bias to limit their thinking.

Listen to our pediatric emergency medicine expert discuss cognitive error in diagnosis

As providers, the safety of our patients is paramount. In recent years, we’ve raised awareness of diagnostic error in medicine, especially for those that arise through error in cognitive perception, failed heuristics and cognitive biases. In today’s episode, Joe Grubenhoff, MD, joins us to discuss error in diagnosis and strategies for reducing cognitive bias.

Dr. Grubenhoff is the Associate Medical Director of Clinical Effectiveness and is a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is also an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

In today’s episode, we explore:

  • Predictable pathways where our brains often make mistakes
  • The impact of decision fatigue in diagnostics
  • A case study in cognitive biases and diagnosis momentum
  • The biggest challenge with using diagnostic shortcuts
  • Techniques to prevent diagnostic pitfalls
  • Why it’s valuable to hand off your cases at the end of a shift
  • The importance of a culture that talks about cognitive decision making
  • Having compassion for those who make diagnostic errors
  • Being aware of hindsight bias when new information comes to light
  • Why it’s critical to bring cognitive psychology into diagnostics

Making diagnoses at Children’s Colorado

At Children’s Colorado, our pediatric experts specialize in finding answers. With our multidisciplinary team approach, we consider all possibilities. We get to the source of the problem, whether it’s one condition or several, so children can get treatment as promptly as possible. Refer a patient to Children’s Colorado.