Interview with Gordon D. Schiff, MD

Quality and Safety Director, Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care
Practicing Internist and Associate Director, Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice, Brigham & Women’s Hospital
Founder, Primary-Care Research in Diagnosis Errors Learning Network
Celebrating 10 Years of SIDM
Interview by Susan Carr | Senior Writer, ImproveDx

Gordon D. Schiff, MD

Gordon Schiff, MD

Q: How has being involved with SIDM influenced your practice or work?

A: For me, SIDM’s influence is inseparable from the people and annual international Diagnostic Error in Medicine conferences. Like a gravitational center, the organization attracts and ties together the work of many hundreds of patients, clinicians and particularly dedicated researchers and staff working to improve the quality and safety of diagnosis.
SIDM has assembled an amazing staff who I have come to trust as my go-to people for trying out ideas and connecting with patients who have gotten involved in improving diagnosis.

SIDM has provided both visibility and credibility for the field as well as given my own work additional legs and reach, allowing me to connect with others and share what we are each learning and doing to improve diagnosis. For example, just this morning, I had a mentoring call with one of the new SIDM fellows, who is a junior hospitalist working in the Indian Health Service (IHS). He is both doing amazing work and has great ideas. We have been able to help him connect with other researchers and plan exciting new studies related to misdiagnosis of patients who undergo emergency transfers in the IHS.

Q: As you think about SIDM’s 10-year history, is there a particular success or challenge you’d like to highlight?

A: I would like to call out the work of Paul Epner. He is amazing in terms of his strategic smarts, organizational skills, and personal helpfulness to me and the organization. His work has translated into many millions of dollars of Moore Foundation grants for the field (including for the Society, the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis, and my own work).

Another highlight for me has been the spawning of DEM conferences in other continents, such as Australia, where I had the honor to attend and speak.

Q: Where would you like to see the SIDM community focus its influence and resources in the next five years?

A: I am eager to see SIDM use its convening and networking ability to continue and accelerate its efforts to pull together cases of diagnostic errors. We owe it to our patients. We hear and learn from their stories, and SIDM is ideally suited to help coordinate and facilitate collecting, analyzing, learning from, and sharing these patients’ stories.