First Discussions on Diagnostic Error
The first focused discussions of diagnostic error, the Dalhousie Workshop on Diagnostic Error, was hosted by Pat Croskerry in 2005 associated with the Canadian Patient Safety Conference Series. The workshop was attended by 40 international experts on safety and human error.
Efforts to Highlight Diagnostic Error
The earliest meeting in the United States addressing the problem of diagnostic error was held in Naples, Florida to discuss and react to an article on diagnostic error and overconfidence authored by Eta Berner and Mark Graber. This paper, and commentaries from each of the participants, was published as a special edition of the American Journal of Medicine.
First Diagnostic Error in Medicine Conference
The inaugural international Diagnostic Error in Medicine (DEM) Conference was convened by Mark Graber and Eta Berner in Phoenix, Arizona in collaboration with the American Medical Informatics Association meeting (AMIA), supported by a conference grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). From this point, the DEM Conference would become an annual event.
While the DEM conferences continued to provide an annual platform to discuss diagnostic error, the conference leaders knew they would have to expand to discuss, explore, and work on the problem of diagnostic error on a continuous basis. In 2011, the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) was officially established. During the annual DEM conference held in Chicago, Mark Graber, David Newman-Toker, Elizabeth Montgomery, Art Papier, Paul Epner, and Ruth Ryan were named to the board. Eleven individuals dedicated to improving diagnostic quality and safety donated $1,000 each to provide the initial capital for SIDM to incorporate.
Shining a Light on Diagnostic Error
In 2013, SIDM's Board of Directors came together in Austin to being developing a working group charged with commissioning a report for the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) on diagnostic error. The group would work to summarize existing knowledge about diagnostic error, identify possible avenues to reduce diagnostic error, propose action items for key stakeholders, and develop a roadmap to improve diagnostic quality and safety.
Developing New Projects and Programs
SIDM's official peer-reviewed journal, Diagnosis, was launched in 2014, with many of its research articles available open access.
In July, The Doctors Company Foundation issued a grant directly to SIDM to partner with Med-U (now Aquifer) on the creation of online courses.
This year, AHRQ also awarded a grant to Syracuse University entitled, "Using Public Deliberation to Define Patient Roles in Reducing Diagnostic Error." SIDM was listed as the sponsor of the project and SIDM members were included as co-investigators.
SIDM petitioned the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) to conduct a review of diagnostic error, which resulted in the landmark Improving Diagnosis in Health Care report. The recommendations shined a light on what is known—and unknown—about diagnostic error, and strongly underscored that it is under-recognized, under-studied, and not integrated into quality assurance measures or activities. Thanks to the report, diagnostic error started becoming an active subject of discussion in healthcare organizations around the country.
Forming the Coalition
In August 2015, SIDM convened the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis to gain maximum impact from the National Academy of Medicine report and to generate real, lasting change. Comprised of 14 leading healthcare organizations, including patient and consumer advocates and government partners, the Coalition aims to bring much-needed attention, awareness, and action to diagnostic error. Forming the Coalition and leveraging its expertise are essential steps in improving the quality of care that patients receive and reducing harm that results when diagnoses are inaccurate, missed, or inappropriately delayed.
SIDM sponsored the first international conference outside of the U.S. in 2016 (Rotterdam), and subsequent conferences in Melbourne, Australia (2017, 2019) and Bern, Switzerland (2018).
SIDM hired its first employees in 2017.
In 2018, SIDM launched ACT for Better Diagnosis, an initiative to make diagnosis more Accurate, Communicated, and Timely by engaging stakeholders through research, education, policy, and quality improvement. The effort goes to the heart of SIDM’s mission and our vision for the future: That everyone has a role to play in improving diagnosis.
The Story of SIDM's Logo
The SIDM logo is an artistic rendition of a commemorative medal crafted by the gifted and prolific Portuguese artist Irene Vilar (1931 – 2008). The original medal was designed for the 4th Congresso Nacional de Medicina in Lisbon, 1980.
The ‘half-veiled man’ conveys the inherent uncertainty of the diagnostic process, and the constant quest to clarify truth in science, medicine, and diagnosis.