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July 15, 2009

Diagnostic Errors and Patient Safety

JAMA. 2009;302(3):258-260. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1006

To the Editor: In their Commentary on diagnostic errors and patient safety, Drs Newman-Toker and Pronovost1 underemphasized the importance of physicians' diagnostic competencies—and the potential role of board certification in assessing and promoting them—in decreasing harm from diagnostic errors. While we share the authors' enthusiasm for new systems such as checklists and computerized clinical decision support, for the foreseeable future (at least until computers replace clinicians' brains as the primary engines of diagnostic reasoning) diagnostic accuracy will continue to hinge, in large part, on individual physicians' knowledge and skills.