Diagnosis is complex because clinicians need not only a large fund of available baseline knowledge, but also the ability to apply this knowledge in a challenging work environment. In addition, they need to consider alternative explanations, including rare diseases and diseases that require urgent treatment.
Given the success of checklists in other domains of patient safety, experts in diagnostic safety have advocated for the development of checklists to support clinicians in their diagnostic reasoning process.3,5 However, only a few studies have evaluated the effect of checklists on diagnostic accuracy,6 and the results are mixed.
In this brief, we will focus on checklists used for cognitive support (i.e., those that remind clinicians of the correct diagnostic steps with the goal of increasing diagnostic accuracy). We will discuss the evidence for the effectiveness of checklists for diagnostic error reduction and factors that influence their effectiveness. Finally, we will discuss next steps for research.