Cognitive Bias

Cognitive Bias

Dr. Grissom

Dennishiel Allen


November 04, 2020


Research Question

How does cognitive bias among healthcare workers influence medical errors in intensive care units (ICU)?

This research question has been developed to help create new knowledge about how cognitive bias influences medication errors in ICU. By answering these questions, significant insights will be developed concerning the impacts of cognitive errors in healthcare facilities. Previous research has indicated that most diagnostic errors occur as a result of cognitive bias. If their impacts can be determined in the ICU departments, researcher, clinicians and the healthcare fraternity can be able to come up with effective approaches to mitigate the adverse effects associated with medication errors.

Numerous cognitive biases have been explored in literature concerning their impacts in medication errors. However, there are other cognitive biases that have not been explored. This study provides an opportunity for these areas that have received little attention to be reviewed. Previous studies indicate that factors that increase the likelihood of cognitive bias can be grouped into three namely patient, person and system factors (Elston, 2019). Personal factors include feelings, fatigue and cognitive loading. Similarly, patient factors include lack of complete history and complex patient presentation. System factors range from inadequate culture to support decision making to poorly designed environment to inadequate workflow and workflow design.

By answering this research question, new knowledge about cognitive bias and its impacts on decision making among healthcare professionals in the ICU department will be developed. This department is known to be highly complex and therefore procedures and strategies effective in other departments may be ineffective among ICU professionals. This knowledge will be used to developing effective procedures, protocols and strategies for reducing cognitive bias in the IC department. Since cognitive bias is associated with medication errors, the strategies will also help in reducing the adverse effects associated with medication errors.


Cognitive bias among healthcare professionals results in medical errors in intensive care units (ICU).

Cognitive bias has been found to be a major cause of medical error in the healthcare system. These challenges are difficult to quantify and therefore has been inconsistently reported. Cognitive bias a distortions or flaws in decision making. Recent studies have identifies cognitive biases as the main cause of sentinel events including diagnostic errors, delays in treatments, patient falls, wrong site operations and unintended retention of foreign objects. Literature indicates that cognitive bias causes 28% of all diagnostic errors in the healthcare. In addition, diagnostic errors result in about 15% of all adverse effects among patients in the healthcare system (Saposnik et al., 2016).

The above statistics are worrying and require deeper analysis is to determine how this may impact. This topic has been widely reviewed by researchers in the past. Different results have been presented concerning the impacts of cognitive bias among healthcare workers in medical errors. However, few studies have been conducted on the impacts of cognitive errors in the intensive care units. It is important to determine the extent at which medical errors occur in the intensive care unit. While most people lose their lives in the ICU, it is not known whether cognitive bias among healthcare professionals in the department plays a role in the errors. This study posits that Cognitive bias among healthcare professionals results in medical errors in intensive care units (ICU).

Numerous strategies have been developed in the past to address the issue of cognitive bias in the healthcare system (O’Sullivan & Schofield, 2018). However, these strategies have focused on the general health facilities and not specific departments. It is clear that there are different factors that influence the ability of health professionals to deliver their duties in the different healthcare departments. As a result, strategies need to be specific for a particular department. Some may work in one department but fail to achieve their goals in another. This hypothesis helps to create new knowledge that can be used to develop new strategies for reducing cognitive bias in ICU department.



Elston, D. M. (2019). Cognitive bias and medical errors. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology81(6), 1249. Retrieved from

O’Sullivan, E. D., & Schofield, S. J. (2018). Cognitive bias in clinical medicine. JR Coll Physicians Edinb48(3), 225-32. Retrieved from

Saposnik, G., Redelmeier, D., Ruff, C. C., & Tobler, P. N. (2016). Cognitive biases associated with medical decisions: a systematic review. BMC medical informatics and decision making16(1), 138. Retrieved from

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