The starting point for patient assessment in Emergency Medicine is the patient’s symptom or problem, which may be
subjective (e.g. chest pain)
objective (e.g. swelling)
potential (e.g. potential post-traumatic fracture or hemorrhage).
Diagnostic mistakes can be categorized as resulting from:
incomplete information acquisition
faulty information interpretation, e.g. due to premature closure, a cognitive error consisting in settling for a diagnostic hypothesis without adequately considering alternative diagnoses
The main goal of the Symptom Checklists provided above is to reduce diagnostic errors resulting from incomplete information acquisition and the failure to consciously consider potential diagnosis. Clinical decision rules are provided to assist with likelihood assessments. Other goals of theses checklists are to promote effective information acquisition and facilitate the process whereby junior physicians review cases with senior physicians.