Bipartisan Legislation Increasing Research Funding to Improve Diagnosis Introduced in U.S. House

(November 22, 2019) Washington, D.C. – Congress took steps this month to increase the federal government’s investment in research designed to improve the quality and safety of medical diagnoses. Bipartisan legislation, Improving Diagnosis in Medicine Act of 2019, was introduced by U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) on November 13.

The legislation comes four months after the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) released new research on Capitol Hill showing that inaccurate and delayed diagnoses are the most common, catastrophic, and costly of all medical errors in the U.S. healthcare system.

According to the bill’s authors, the legislation aims to increase researchers’ capacity to develop and test solutions to improve diagnostic quality and safety. It also establishes an HHS Interagency Council to identify and coordinate healthcare research related to reducing diagnostic errors. Finally, it adds diagnosis as new category to the federal database that formally tracks health research funding.

Last week hundreds of researchers, patients, and clinicians focused on improving diagnosis came together to discuss specific strategies to improve diagnosis in practice and showcase areas in need of increased research at the SIDM Diagnostic Error in Medicine 12th Annual International Conference. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) announced at the conference his intention to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.

“Diagnostic error is the most common, most costly, and most catastrophic of serious medical errors. Relative to its public health footprint, diagnostic error is the most under-recognized, under-studied, and under-remediated threat to patient safety in our health care system” said Paul L. Epner, chief executive officer and co-founder of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. “Much of the limited research into diagnostic error has focused on defining the magnitude of the problem. This legislation moves the research community toward identifying solutions to equip clinicians, patients and their families with the tools needed to arrive at the right diagnosis. “It is heartening to see Representatives Luján and Bilirakis work together to improve healthcare safety. We look forward to the bill being passed by the House and Senate and signed into law.”

The bill also calls on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to establish Research Centers of Diagnostic Excellence and support grants to increase research focused on diagnosis. The Interagency Council established by the legislation would be chaired by AHRQ, with senior-level representation from the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Council would be charged with developing a federal strategic plan to strengthen diagnostic quality and safety research and report to Congress bi-annually on progress against that plan.

Full text of the legislation can be found here.

To learn more about the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and its efforts to increase diagnostic quality and safety, visit


About the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM)
The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine catalyzes and leads change to improve diagnosis and eliminate harm from diagnostic error. We work in partnership with patients, their families, the healthcare community and every interested stakeholder. SIDM is the only organization focused solely on the problem of diagnostic error and improving the accuracy and timeliness of diagnosis. In 2015, SIDM established the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis to increase awareness and actions that improve diagnosis. Members of the Coalition represent hundreds of thousands of healthcare providers and patients—and the leading health organizations and government agencies involved in patient care. Together, we work to find solutions that enhance diagnostic safety and quality, reduce harm, and ultimately, ensure better health outcomes for patients. Visit to learn more.

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Despite the fact that diagnostic error likely accounts for more patient harm than all other medical errors combined, federal investment in research to improve diagnosis amounts to about $7 million per year, or just .02% of the total $35 billion federal health research budget. Learn how you can support efforts to expand funding for research.