Qing Kay Li MD PhD, The ASC Bulletin Editorial Board
The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Baltimore, Maryland

The book Cognitive Errors and Diagnostic Mistakes: A Case-Based Guide to Critical Thinking in Medicine, written by Jonathan Howard MD, Assistant Professor, Neurology and Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center, is a case-study based text for the medical profession to address common cognitive biases and their consequences in the practice of medicine. It is consistent of 30 chapters, including many figures and tables. The unique feature of the book is that it mainly based upon the discussion of medical cases to explain the concept of cognitive errors and their importance in clinical medicine as well as current controversies within healthcare system. More importantly, the book also provides strategies on minimizing cognitive errors in various medical and professional settings. The text is practical and easy to read.

We all know that medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and cause serious problems of public health. Many factors are involved in causing medical errors, therefore, it is challenging to uncover the most common cause of errors and, even if found, to provide an effective solution that minimizes chances of an error. Although certain mistakes cannot be prevented by current knowledge and technology in medicine, human factor still play a critical role in causing medical errors. In the introduction, Dr. Howard explains the concept of cognitive errors and their importance in clinical medicine. And then, he discusses how the mindset of a person can result in errors in thinking. The core of the book is dedicated to address the concept of cognitive biases using actual cases, followed by a discussion of the clinician’s rationale and an overview of the particular cognitive bias. We all need to understand our psychological and cognitive biases in order to think clearly about every aspect of a patient’s conditions and to make the best decisions.

The other unique feature of the book is to address how the mindset of a person can result in errors in thinking. The entire book illustrates how people can fall for pseudoscience through a combination of misunderstanding study methods and results proposed by original authors who may intentionally target those hopes and fears of individuals. This book is written in such a logical way to address a particular type of cognitive bias, starting with case presentation followed by a discussion and ending with conclusions drawn within each chapter. The book could help us to recognize certain very important logical mistakes we made during diagnostic workups. Every doctor within different specialties would benefit from reading this book. This book may serve as a guide to pathologists and cytopathologists to successfully practice medicine, avoid potential errors and deliver the best diagnosis possible with all relevant information needed to manage patients.

Cognitive Errors and Diagnostic Mistakes: A Case-Based Guide to Critical Thinking in Medicine

Jonathan Howard MD
Publisher: Springer, 2019 edition, Cham, Switzerland
Price: $59.99
Hardcover, 577 pages
ISBN: 978-3-319-93224-8 (eBook)
ISBN: 978-3-319-93223-1