Consensus Statement
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Diagnostic errors affect more than 12 million Americans each year and likely cause more harm to patients than all other medical errors combined. The best available research indicates that one in 10 diagnoses are missed, delayed, or miscommunicated, and that all of us will suffer at least one diagnostic error in our lifetime, with up to a third of those resulting in serious harm. Best estimates also suggest that diagnostic error wastes as much as $50-100 billion per year on inappropriate testing, wrong treatments, and malpractice lawsuits. Yet diagnosis has been largely overlooked in national efforts to improve healthcare quality and safety. Federal investment in research to understand the multifactorial causes of diagnostic error and solutions to improve diagnostic safety has totaled only a few million dollars per year; as a result, the science of diagnostic safety and quality is underdeveloped and many known potential solutions have not yet been tested or confirmed in actual clinical practice.  

In its 2015 report, Improving Diagnosis in Health Care, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) noted diagnostic error has been a massive "blind spot" in the national effort to improve health care quality and safety. It issued an urgent call for dedicated research funding and a coordinated, multi-agency federal research agenda to immediately address diagnostic errors and harms.

The Coalition to Improve Diagnosis, convened by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, is a confederation of more than 40 key national healthcare stakeholder organizations representing hundreds of thousands of patients, physicians, nurses, and clinical educators, as well as leading health systems, risk insurers, and others who share a vision to eliminate patient harms from medical diagnostic errors. We believe it is critical that Congress act on the NAM recommendations and move quickly to eliminate key barriers to diagnostic research.

The Coalition supports a three-pronged approach to facilitate and catalyze research toward solutions that can be implemented in clinical practice and disseminated broadly:

  1. Establish and fund Research Centers of Diagnostic Excellence to serve as central hubs for conducting critical diagnostic safety and quality research using transdisciplinary team science.
  2. Support and fund diagnostic fellowship training programs that cultivate, train, and develop early career scientists to expand the currently limited pool of diagnostic researchers.
  3. Develop and validate operationally viable measures of diagnostic processes and patient-centered diagnostic outcomes for use in research and quality improvement efforts.The return on new investment in research to eliminate harms from diagnostic error will be substantial. There are already promising new solutions in the research pipeline for specific, commonly misdiagnosed conditions (including stroke, sepsis, and cancer) that could eliminate tens of thousands of patient harms and billions of dollars in wasted testing and avoidable hospitalizations each year in the US.

The undersigned members of the respectfully asks that Congress give this non-partisan issue its full support, because it affects all of us. Research to improve diagnostic safety and accuracy will put life-saving tools, methods, and processes into the hands of clinicians, practices, and systems to help them ACT to Improve Diagnosis.


Prepared by the Joint Policy Committee of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine & Coalition to Improve Diagnosis

As of August 29, 2018
ABIM Foundation
Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association of Nurse Practitioners 
American Board of Internal Medicine
American Board of Medical Specialties
American College of Physicians 
American College of Emergency Physicians
American Society for Health Care Risk Management
Association of Clinical Scientists
Consumers Advancing Patient Safety
Council of Medical Specialty Societies
Institute for Healthcare Improvement/National Patient Safety Foundation
Intermountain Healthcare
The Leapfrog Group
Maryland Patient Safety Center
Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors
MedStar Health
Midwest Alliance for Patient Safety
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
Penn State Health, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority
Society of Bedside Medicine
Society of Hospital Medicine
Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine
The Permanente Federation, Kaiser Permanente
Society to Improve
Diagnosis in Medicine
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