The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) is thrilled to announce that Congress included language in the final FY 2023 Omnibus spending bill that doubles dedicated federal funding for research to reduce patient harm from diagnostic error. Statistically, each of us is likely to experience a meaningful diagnostic error in our lifetime.
The significant human and financial toll of diagnostic errors, which occur in all settings of care, was first highlighted in a landmark 2015 National Academy of Medicine (NAM) report, Improving Diagnosis in Health Care. The report found that missed, delayed, or un-communicated diagnoses result in more patient harm than all other healthcare-associated harms combined. The NAM report called diagnostic error “a blind spot” in health care quality and safety, and improving medical diagnosis a “moral, professional, and public health imperative.”
Since the release of the NAM report, SIDM has been working hard to educate policymakers about these issues and advocating for more research funding. SIDM has assembled a coalition of dozens of groups representing health systems, patients, clinicians, and others to raise awareness and spark action. “This funding is an important signal that Congress is becoming aware of the magnitude of the public health burden, both human and financial, associated with diagnostic error and intends to tackle it,” says Jennie Ward-Robinson, PhD and CEO of SIDM.
Citing diagnosis as “the next frontier of patient safety,” the NAM report summarized what is known about factors that affect diagnostic safety and accuracy at the clinician, system, and policy levels, and made recommendations at each of those levels. A few promising interventions are already emerging for specific and commonly misdiagnosed conditions, as well as for specific systems-level problems, such as failure to “close the loop” on abnormal test results. But these initiatives are tiny compared to the scope and scale of the issue.
“Congress should be applauded by patients and clinicians everywhere for taking up the call,” said SIDM President Doug Salvador. “Accurate diagnosis is the sine qua non of quality health care, and failure to accurately diagnose is also a major driver of unnecessary costs. Diagnosis is also one of the most complex tasks in health care; until we have a body of research that supports data-driven reliable improvement strategies, our clinicians and healthcare system will be left struggling. There is much work to be done by all healthcare stakeholders. SIDM looks forward to working with all interested parties to move this life-saving research forward.”
As part of its ongoing work, SIDM continues to be a leading convener committed to coalescing voices working to improve diagnoses in medicine. Please join us and stay informed at improvediagnosis.org.
About the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM): SIDM is a nonprofit organization whose members include clinicians and other healthcare professionals, patients, and every stakeholder in the diagnostic process. In 2015, SIDM established the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis, a collaboration of more than 75 leading healthcare organizations. Visit www.improvediagnosis.org to learn more. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Sophie Gibson, VIVO360, Inc., 404 784 4688, firstname.lastname@example.org