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Keywords:

  • cognitive skill decay;
  • diagnostic error

Abstract

Missed, delayed, or wrong diagnoses can have a severe impact on patients, providers, and the entire health care system. One mechanism implicated in such diagnostic errors is the deterioration of cognitive diagnostic skills that are used rarely or not at all over a prolonged period of time. Existing evidence regarding maintenance of effective cognitive reasoning skills in the clinical education, organizational training, and human factors literatures suggest that continuing education plays a critical role in mitigating and managing diagnostic skill decay. Recent models also underscore the role of system level factors (eg, cognitive decision support tools, just-in-time training opportunities) in supporting clinical reasoning process. The purpose of this manuscript is to offer a multidisciplinary review of cognitive models of clinical decision making skills in order to provide a list of best practices for supporting continuous improvement and maintenance of cognitive diagnostic processes through continuing education.