Diagnostic Errors Need to Be on Healthcare Organizations’ Patient Safety Agenda

November 5, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​Diagnostic errors have not, until recently, been on the patient safety radar screen because "we thought we were doing okay," said Mark Graber, M.D., FACP, senior fellow, RTI International, on October 29, 2014, at the annual conference of the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management in Anaheim, California. "To a great extent we are, because we get things right 90% of the time . . . But that means we get things wrong 10% of the time, too," said Graber, who is also founder and president of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. He estimated that there are 40,000 to 80,000 deaths from diagnostic errors annually in the United States, or about 10 deaths every year in each hospital. To reduce diagnostic errors, he called upon healthcare systems to address the following: find and discuss diagnostic errors, address the systems issues that contribute to these errors, provide clinicians with decision-support tools, develop pathways for feedback to clinicians about their decision making, and facilitate second opinions in patient care as needed.

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