Learn More about Diagnostic Overshadowing (DO)

What is Diagnostic Overshadowing?

View our Instagram post about DO here.

Attributing symptoms to an existing diagnosis, rather than looking further into potential co-morbid conditions.

Why Is It Important?

Diagnostic overshadowing is the failure or delay to properly diagnose and treat conditions. It stems from cognitive bias. DO can occur with virtually any patient with a pre-existing diagnosis or condition.

Who Is At Highest Risk?

Groups experiencing health disparities are most at risk for example those with a history of substance abuse, LGBTQ identifying, low health literacy, obesity, disabilities, and neuro deficits.

How Can I Make a Difference?

  • Be aware of DO.
  • Use listening and interviewing skills to gain better patient engagement and shared decision-making.
  • Speak up and escalate your concern if the patient's symptoms are being overlooked.
  • Review the organization's ADA compliance policy to see if it includes diagnostic overshadowing; consider adding DO to ensure the needs of all patients with health disabilities are met.

Last Updated:
August 10, 2022

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