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Am J Clin Pathol. 2001 Dec;116 Suppl:S21-33.

Diagnostic decision-making in anatomic pathology.

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Department of Pathology, Presbyterian Hospital, Albuquerque, NM, USA.


In diagnostic pathology, decision-making skills are used to match the facts of a particular case to a diagnostic category. Ideally the diagnosis is established with "beyond a reasonable doubt" certainty, but substantial uncertainty orfrank diagnostic error can afflict the diagnostic process for a variety of reasons. Many of these diagnostic problems are explained by failures of decision-making. Unfortunately, it appears that substantial components of decision-making are too poorly understood to study or improve. For example, "instant pattern recognition," use of implicit knowledge, and use of creativity represent areas where discussion may not be helpful. In contrast, rule-based problem-solving is sufficiently well understood that the members of an almost purely cognitive specialty might be prompted to ask, what do we know about what we do when we problem-solve? This article reviews some of the more intriguing aspects of decision-making in the hope of stimulating interest in the topic among pathologists.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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