Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine Supports National Action Plan to Advance Patient Safety

Calls on Health Systems to Make Improving Patient Safety an Organizational Priority

Evanston, IL – (September 14, 2020) The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) joins with the National Steering Committee for Patient Safety (NSC) to announce the release of a National Action Plan intended to provide health systems with renewed momentum and clearer direction for eliminating preventable medical harm.

Safer Together: A National Action Plan to Advance Patient Safety draws from evidence-based practices, widely known and effective interventions, exemplar case examples, and newer innovations. The plan is the work of 27 influential federal agencies, safety organizations and experts, and patient and family advocates, first brought together in 2018 by Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Paul Epner, SIDM CEO and Founder and member of both the NSC and the Culture, Leadership and Governance and Measurement Subcommittees of the Steering Committee helped guide the recommendations and noted the importance of the plan’s recommendations regarding Patient & Family Engagement.

“Patients and family members with lived experience of medical errors are key to driving effective improvements in hospitals and health systems, that has been clear in all of the work we are doing to reduce harm from diagnostic errors,” said Epner. “The National Action Plan makes this an explicit priority in work that needs to be done to improve patient safety.

The Action Plans call on health systems to “engage patients, families, and care partners in the co-production of care. Healthcare leaders and healthcare professionals need to fully engage with patients, families, and care partners in ongoing co-design and co-production of their care” and to involve “patients as equal partners in the diagnostic process and in decisions about their care using evidence-based patient decision aids and reporting tools for patient-reported outcomes.”

SIDM offers a number of tools to support health systems in their efforts to engage patient and family members in the research, design and implementation safety interventions:

Improving Diagnosis Change Package - The Improving Diagnosis in Medicine change package is the result of a collaboration between the HRET Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN) team and SIDM, with contributions from patients and their families. This resource can help reduce patient safety incidents caused by actions during the diagnostic process.

Patient's Toolkit - Having patients be actively engaged in their care helps healthcare professionals develop more accurate, timely diagnoses. With this toolkit, patients can prepare for upcoming appointments, map symptoms, account for medications, and plan for next steps.

Patient and Family Advisory Council Guides - Each guide provides foundational education about diagnostic errors and tangible ideas and suggestions for Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) and their hospital or health system leadership to employ as they work to tackle diagnostic quality and safety.

“The way in which diverse groups and patient advocates who are interested in patient safety came together to forge the National Action Plan is unprecedented, and it underscores the necessity to work together to create the safest health care possible,” said NSC Co-Chair Jeffrey Brady, MD, MPH, who directs the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “Over the past 20 years, the field has amassed a tremendous body of knowledge to improve healthcare safety. What’s been missing is the use of this knowledge for more coordinated action. That’s what we want to rectify.”

“With so many competing priorities and requirements that health systems face, it has become difficult to focus on key areas that are foundational for improving across the board,” stated Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, NSC Co-Chair, IHI Senior Fellow, and Chief Safety and Transformation Officer at Press Ganey. “The Action Plan helps direct attention to these interdependent areas, which have substantial, wide-ranging influence on many aspects of patient safety. Accelerating improvement in each of these areas will mutually support improvement in others and create the fertile soil that allows broader safety initiatives to take root and be cultivated.”


About the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine
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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