Disparities Workshop Connects Patient and Clinician Insights

With support from SIDM patient engagement staff, Dr. Kathryn McDonald, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University, and patient safety champion Helen Haskell conducted a series of interviews and a literature review, and analyzed relevant medical malpractice data in preparation for a Disparities Workshop held at the Diagnostic Error in Medicine 12th Annual International Conference in Washington, DC.

Highlights of the Disparities Workshop included an amalgam of patient stories crafted to capture the significance of the errors experienced and the importance of the patients’ visible age, gender, and racial factors. The stories and repeating themes were woven together in a way that allowed the patients and family members to relate parts of their experiences and present on the topic of disparities powerfully and holistically. In keeping with the multi-stakeholder approach to tackling issues of disparity in diagnostic harm, the amalgam incorporated clinician and researcher insights, identified challenges faced in the diagnostic process, and expressed hopes common to both patients and clinicians for improving diagnostic quality. The workshop also included small- and large-group brainstorming sessions to generate potential solutions to disparity-related diagnostic harm.

This workshop was part of a larger project funded by the Coverys Medical Liability Company. The funds were awarded to SIDM in February 2019 for the creation of a project to explore the role that visible factors of race, age, and gender play in diagnostic quality and safety. From the start, the lived experience of patients, clinicians, and researchers was a guiding force. The project employed both a Patient Advisory Board (PAB) and a Research Advisory Board (RAB) to guide and inform the process. The PAB was populated with a host of patients, each of whom experienced diagnostic harm either directly or through a loved one, in whole or in part due to race, gender, or age. Their personal stories and experience as safety advocates since experiencing their diagnostic errors have been important drivers for the project. Similarly, the body of clinical and research experience across the RAB members has contributed to a well-rounded approach to tackling this complicated and insidious issue.

The ultimate aim of this work is to generate a list of solutions for the many causal factors that underlie disparities in diagnostic quality. Ideally, tools or trainings can be developed from the solutions list to help medical teams navigate the diagnostic process without falling victim to biases or misconceptions based on race, age, and gender. The project will continue to be informed by the rich lived experienced of the PAB and RAB members. SIDM is eager to be able to offer these potential solution concepts and tools to the entire diagnostic quality community.

In this Issue:
Addressing Disparities in Diagnosis

To help address this gap, SIDM is partnering with Stanford University and Patients Improving Research in Diagnosis (PAIRED) Patient Partners to conduct a two-year project to explore and address disparities in diagnosis related to cognitive reasoning pitfalls.