ECRI Institute Names Diagnostic Error Top Patient Safety Concern for 2018

Statement from Paul Epner, CEO of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine


March 13, 2018 - This week the ECRI Institute named diagnostic errors the top patient safety concern of 2018. They note:

“According to both studies and claims analyses, diagnostic errors are common, and they can have serious consequences. Miscommunication is a common issue, but often not the only one. ‘It’s a multifactorial problem,’ says Gail M. Horvath, MSN, RN, CNOR, CRCST, patient safety analyst and consultant, ECRI Institute. ‘Diagnostic errors are the result of cognitive, systemic, or a combination of cognitive and systemic factors.

Diagnostic errors are also challenging to measure and learn from because they often go undetected until after the patient leaves the hospital or emergency department (ED). Healthcare organizations should capture data on diagnostic errors and near misses. Sources may include the event-reporting system, malpractice and payment claims, patient complaints, patient surveys, autopsies, and record reviews. The organization can then make changes to address gaps. Discussing the topic in multiple forums, such as grand rounds and debriefings, can support ongoing analysis and learning for clinicians.”

The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) applauds the ECRI Institute for calling attention to the problem of diagnostic errors and noting that it is a both cognitive and system problem. We join them in calling on healthcare organizations to measure, report and develop initiatives to improve the diagnostic process.

SIDM is driving change through medical education, quality improvement and patient engagement initiatives to improve diagnosis. As the convener of the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis, SIDM is working with the leading healthcare organizations across the country to involve patients, clinicians and health systems in efforts to reduce diagnostic error.


About the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM)
The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) 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.

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