Patient Safety Advocate Susan Sheridan to Join Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine


January 16, 2018 - A nationally renowned leader in patient safety, Susan E. Sheridan, MIM, MBA, DHL will join the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) on January 22, as the organization’s first-ever Director of Patient Engagement. In this newly created position, Sheridan will spearhead efforts to ensure that the patient and family perspective informs all facets of SIDM’s work to improve diagnostic accuracy and timeliness while reducing harm caused by diagnostic errors.

Diagnostic error is one of the most important safety problems in health care today, and inflicts the most harm. Estimates are that one in 10 diagnoses are incorrect.

“The patient perspective is too often missing from strategies to improve healthcare delivery and reduce medical errors – including diagnostic errors,” said Paul Epner, Executive Vice President for SIDM. “Any solution to reduce the harm and cost of diagnostic errors must integrate the patient and family perspective. Sue is uniquely qualified to help us reach that goal.”

Since 2016 Sheridan served on the SIDM Board and was a member of the organization’s Coalition to Improve Diagnosis – comprised of more than 30 of the leading organizations and government agencies in health care.

In 2015 the National Academies of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) issued their seminal report on diagnostic errors, Improving Diagnosis in Health Care. A key recommendation from the report was for health are professionals to partner with patients and their families to improve the diagnostic process.

“Patients are now 'co-developers' working with prominent research organizations, with health systems, and government agencies such as the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). But more must be done to make sure patients’ and families’ voices are heard,” said Sheridan. “I am joining the team at the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine to leverage the potential of the patient engagement movement, improve diagnosis, and prevent harm from diagnostic error.”

Most recently Sheridan served as the Patient and Family Engagement Adviser in the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality at CMS, where she developed strategies and processes to integrate CMS’s newly launched Person and Family Engagement Strategy throughout the CMS community.

From 2012 – 2016, Sheridan served as the Director of Patient Engagement at PCORI, where she was responsible for creating networks and engaging patients nationwide to provide broad-based input on the development and execution of PCORI’s research. She also was responsible for concept development and implementation of patient engagement-related programs and processes at PCORI.

Inspired by her own adverse family experiences in the healthcare system, Sheridan had previously spent 10 years in patient advocacy. She is Co-Founder and Past President of Parents of Infants and Children with Kernicterus, which works in partnership with private and public health agencies to eradicate kernicterus. In 2003, Sheridan co-founded Consumers Advancing Patient Safety, a nonprofit organization that seeks a safe, compassionate and just healthcare system through proactive partnership between consumers and providers of care. Sheridan served as President of CAPS from 2003-2010.

Sheridan was asked to lead the World Health Organization’s Patients for Patient Safety initiative, a program under the WHO Patient Safety Program that embraces the collective wisdom of the patient, patient empowerment and safe, patient-centered care. Sheridan served as Program Lead from 2004-2011.

She speaks frequently on patient engagement across the full spectrum of healthcare at national and international events. In April 2009, Sheridan was named to Modern Healthcare's lists of Top 25 Women in Healthcare as well as 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare. In 2010 Sheridan was awarded the ‘Idaho Healthcare Hero’ in community outreach by the Idaho Business Review, and in 2011 Sheridan was appointed by The Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality of the Health Resources and Services Administration for 2011-2013, as well as the CDC’s CLIAC Federal Advisory Council in 2016. Sheridan also served on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s Board of Directors as a Public Director.

Sheridan received her BA from Albion College, her MIM and MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and her Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Adrian College. She has a professional background in international banking, and served in Ecuador with her late husband, Pat, as a Peace Corps volunteer.

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 top healthcare organizations.

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Patients and family members have a significant opportunity to contribute to diagnostic accuracy and timeliness by actively participating in the diagnostic process.