Interview with Susan E. Sheridan, MIM, MBA, DHL
Director of Patient Engagement (Emeritus), SIDM
Founding Director, Patients for Patient Safety US
Celebrating 10 Years of SIDM
Interview by Susan Carr | Senior Writer, ImproveDx
Q: How has being involved with SIDM influenced your practice or work?
A: Until I started working with SIDM, I did not appreciate how many patient safety events and cases of medical harm are caused by diagnostic errors. I hadn’t even thought of the errors that caused my son’s kernicterus or that resulted in my husband Pat’s death as diagnostic errors. I have always championed patient safety but now, within that, diagnostic errors are front and center.
Q: As you think about SIDM’s 10-year history, is there a particular success or challenge you’d like to highlight?
A: From the beginning, SIDM has engaged patients and family members in many roles, including as board members, which has been a real asset. SIDM created a director of patient engagement staff position in 2018, which I was honored to hold, and it has consistently pursued grants and contracts that engaged patient organizations. SIDM seems to understand that diagnostic error is not just an academic or theoretical issue. This is about real life. Working together with patients, SIDM has created diagnostic tools, materials, and activities based on individuals’ real life experiences. SIDM has walked the talk and authentically engaged patients as speakers, employees, and board members.
Q: Where would you like to see the SIDM community focus its influence and resources in the next five years?
A: In addition to continuing to engage with a variety of patient organizations and bring them into the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis, I would like to see SIDM grab onto one diagnostic issue and drive it home. And if I were going to choose that issue, it would be communicating critical test results to patients. So many things fall through the cracks, and that problem is solvable. SIDM has worked with The Joint Commission on this in the past, but I would like to see them make it a priority and close that loop. So many patients are harmed and die from results that go missing, which is unacceptable. This is an area where SIDM could make a real difference.