Among the hot topics in CME today -- from REMS to perceptions of bias to Maintenance of Certification Part IV -- the one that left me feeling a bit queasy from the final Alliance for CME plenary session Saturday morning was a presentation on cognitive bias and errors in diagnosis, by Hilary Schmidt, PhD. She cited data about the scary high percentage of hospital admissions that involved missed diagnoses, patients with acute or chronic conditions who didn't get the right care (it sounds like the AHRQ Web site has a lot of good info on this topic). When she asked us how many in the audience had a medical error affect our or a loved one's life, I swear almost half of us raised our hands.
She then showed us just how cognitive bias can factor into missed or misdiagnoses by showing just how easy it is for humans to miss really obvious things, like an airplane engine and a moondancing bear, something called cognitive blindness. And how the power of suggestion can factor into perceptions of a situation.
The good news is that CME can help to reduce these types of errors. The more often we're made aware of cognitive blindness and inattention, the less likely we are to get blindsided by it. Perfect concept for a performance-improvement CME program...if anyone's doing it, I'd love to hear about it.