Teaching about diagnostic errors through virtual patient cases: a pilot exploration.

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Diagnosis (Berl)

MeSH Headings

Attitude, Clinical Clerkship, Curriculum, Diagnostic Errors, Education, Medical, Faculty, Medical, Humans, Internal Medicine, Pilot Projects, Problem-Based Learning, Qualitative Research, Societies, Students, Medical, Surveys and Questionnaires, Teaching


BACKGROUND: Diagnostic error is a major problem in health care, yet there are few medical school curricula focused on improving the diagnostic process and decreasing diagnostic errors. Effective strategies to teach medical students about diagnostic error and diagnostic safety have not been established.

METHODS: We designed, implemented and evaluated a virtual patient module featuring two linked cases involving diagnostic errors. Learning objectives developed by a consensus process among medical educators in the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) were utilized. The module was piloted with internal medicine clerkship students at three institutions and with clerkship faculty members recruited from listservs. Participants completed surveys on their experience using the case and a qualitative analysis was performed.

RESULTS: Thirty-five medical students and 25 faculty members completed the survey. Most students found the module to be relevant and instructive. Faculty also found the module valuable for students but identified insufficient curricular time as a barrier to implementation.

CONCLUSIONS: Medical students and faculty found a prototype virtual patient module about the diagnostic process and diagnostic error to be educational.



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