Public Release: 

SIDM responds to new diagnostic error report, proposes action steps

New recommendations will save lives, improve care

The Reis Group

Diagnostic errors in medicine should be considered a patient safety and quality of care challenge, according to a new report released today by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).

The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) petitioned the NASEM to produce the report and supports a collaborative approach to reduce preventable errors and delays in diagnosis across the healthcare continuum. Mark Graber, MD, founder and president of SIDM, a member of the report committee, and a pioneer in this field, commented:

"This report is a major milestone in the effort to improve diagnoses, quality of care and patient outcomes. A timely, accurate and efficient diagnosis is appropriately the expectation of every patient, yet every one of us is likely to experience one or more diagnostic errors in our lifetime."

"Diagnosis is one of the most difficult and complex tasks in healthcare. There are more than 10,000 potential diagnoses, thousands of lab tests, and the problem that symptoms of each diagnosis vary from person to person. Moreover, our healthcare systems are highly complex, which contributes to problems coordinating care and completing the diagnostic process successfully."

SIDM recently spearheaded the launch of the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis, made up of leading healthcare organizations to bring awareness, attention and action to diagnostic error. Paul Epner, MBA, executive vice president of SIDM and chair of the Coalition, said:

"Diagnostic errors have no single root cause. Clinicians and the entire healthcare team, as well as patients, must all take steps to help improve the safety and accuracy of diagnosis. The first step is to recognize how this systemic problem can be reduced through greater awareness and new approaches to process improvement and training."

"This report addresses a significant gap in our knowledge, and SIDM intends to drive review and action on the recommendations across the entire health care system. It is the responsibility of everyone involved in the diagnostic process to consider the steps they can take to improve outcomes. This begins with healthcare providers and their organizations, which need to establish a culture of safety where these errors can be identified, studied, and addressed."

"The concept of diagnosis as a team endeavor is a very powerful one, allowing the patient to be an active party, along with nursing staff and the diagnostic professionals in the clinical laboratory and radiology areas. Education reform is another key element, so that trainees learn mechanisms to reduce diagnostic errors in practice. Finally, for a problem that may be as lethal as traffic accidents, diabetes, or AIDS, research funding on the causes and potential solutions is urgently needed."

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About the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM)

SIDM is a physician-led nonprofit organization whose members include clinicians, patients and every stakeholder in the diagnostic process. SIDM sponsors the annual Diagnostic Error in Medicine conference and is the only organization focused on improving the quality and safety of medical diagnosis. Visit http://www.improvediagnosis.org to learn more.

About the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis

The Coalition to Improve Diagnosis is a collaboration of leading healthcare organizations representing clinicians and other healthcare professionals, patients and families, employers, insurers, researchers, policymakers and educators. Member organizations have committed to take measurable action to improve diagnosis through the collective actions of the Coalition, as well as opportunities available to and led by each member organization. Visit http://www.dxcoalition.org to learn more.

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