Diagnostic Error in Medicine 14th Annual International Conference Recap

The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine hosted its 14th International Diagnostic Error in Medicine Conference (SIDM2021) virtually in October. This year’s theme was “Reducing Disparities; Improving Diagnosis”.

“The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the impact of disparities on health care quality. Overlooked, however, has been how disparities have long affected the ability to get an accurate, timely, and well-communicated diagnosis,” said Dr. Peter Pronovost, conference co-chair.


The Conference

Annually, the conference brings together participants representing medicine’s cross-cutting nature, including physicians, patients, nurses, educators, researchers, quality leaders, safety experts, policymakers, and more.

Attendees came together to share research, innovations, ideas, and solutions evaluated or implemented. SIDM2021 showcased new developments in the field of diagnostic safety, with particular attention to the structural and cognitive biases that perpetuate disparities in diagnosis for women, racial minorities, and other marginalized communities. Fifteen conference sessions addressed these disparities.

The first day of the conference framed the issues – how to engage policymakers to make a big difference and how to start collecting and stratifying data to inform future actions. Day two dove into health issues such as racism, ageism, and genderism. At the end of the day, attendees learned there are knowledge gaps and trust gaps. In addition, these three issues have intersectionality, and feedback is needed to help calibrate ourselves. Day three plenary sessions included special topics around AI, Language Proficiency, and long-haul infections.


Keynote Speakers and Sessions

Speakers at SIDM2021 are esteemed leaders in the field of patient safety. Plenary speakers included Ronald Wyatt, MD, Christine K. Cassel, MD, Urmimala Sarkar, MD, MPH, Tejal Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, and Peter Provonost, MD, PhD.

One of the liveliest and highest-rated Conference sessions continued to be “The SIDM Fellows Present the Best of the Best”, a recent literature review. SIDM Fellows are inter-disciplinary and diverse in gender, race, and ethnicity. They have been extraordinarily productive, publishing 70 articles in the past year. Another popular and dynamic session is “Clinical Problem-Solving in Action,” a real-time unfolding case illustrating the clinical reasoning that leads to the diagnosis.



SIDM2021 illustrated how including patients and families as a crucial part of the diagnostic team leads to improved diagnostic outcomes. In addition to presenting the Patient Summit, patients served as Conference Planning Committee members and as judges of posters and abstracts. They introduced numerous sessions with their stories and, for the first time, presented a patient poster session.

The 2021 Conference showcased 18 oral abstracts and 103 posters featuring research projects, many of them by trainees in medical schools, residencies, and fellowships.

“This year’s conference laid the ground-work for a strong future in addressing disparities in diagnosis,” said Jennie Ward-Robinson, CEO of The Society to Improve Diagnosis. “The conference offered key messages that reinforce SIDM’s mission to be a leader in reducing bias, diagnostic inequalities, and improving diagnostic quality for patients and their families.”


The 14th International Diagnostic Error in Medicine Conference program can be found here.