WASHINGTON – Most people will experience at least one diagnostic error -- an inaccurate or delayed diagnosis -- in their lifetime, sometimes with devastating consequences, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The committee that conducted the study and wrote the report found that although getting the right diagnosis is a key aspect of health care, efforts to improve diagnosis and reduce diagnostic errors have been quite limited. Improving diagnosis is a complex challenge, partly because making a diagnosis is a collaborative and inherently inexact process that may unfold over time and across different health care settings. To improve diagnosis and reduce errors, the committee called for more effective teamwork among health care professionals, patients, and families; enhanced training for health care professionals; more emphasis on identifying and learning from diagnostic errors and near misses in clinical practice; a payment and care delivery environment that supports the diagnostic process; and a dedicated focus on new research.
This report is a continuation of the Institute of Medicine’s Quality Chasm Series, which includes reports such as To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century, andPreventing Medication Errors.
“These landmark IOM reports reverberated throughout the health care community and were the impetus for system-wide improvements in patient safety and quality care,” said Victor J. Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine. “But this latest report is a serious wake-up call that we still have a long way to go. Diagnostic errors are a significant contributor to patient harm that has received far too little attention until now. I am confident that Improving Diagnosis in Health Care, like the earlier reports in the IOM series, will have a profound effect not only on the way our health care system operates but also on the lives of patients.”
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