Ensuring a Better Diagnosis

A coalition of more than 40 healthcare and patient advocacy organizations have launched an effort to improve the quality of medical diagnoses, especially diagnoses that can result in patient harm. Researchers estimate that up to 80,000 deaths a year in U.S hospitals can be attributed to inaccurate or delayed diagnoses.

“ACT for Better Diagnosis” ™ an initiative of the “Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM), aims to improve the diagnostic process by calling on organizations to identify and spread practical steps to better ensure diagnoses that are Accurate, Communicated, and Timely.

Working in collaboration over several months, members of the SIDM-led “Coalition to Improve Diagnosis” national healthcare and patient advocacy organizations have identified initial obstacles they believe impede diagnostic accuracy such as:

  • Providing incomplete communication during care transitions resulting in information slipping through the cracks
  • Providing few measures and little feedback if a diagnosis was incorrect or changed
  • Limiting support to help with clinical reasoning as clinicians often need timely efficient access to tools and resources
  • Providing limited time results in patients resulting in their care providers feeling rushed which can result in not gathering a complete history
  • Working with a complicated diagnostic process resulting in limited information available to patients as to changes in their condition
  • Not having adequate funding for research which can impact inaccurate or delayed diagnoses on healthcare costs

 

Members of the coalition are taking action to improve the accuracy and timeliness of diagnoses by suggesting the use of online tools to help physicians recognize and avoid diagnostic pitfalls.

The goal is to improve medical education for new practitioners as well as tools to support patients as they seek to get a diagnosis, plus develop other tools to empower doctors, patients, and caregivers to be able to communicate test results in plain language.

Also participating in the coalition are liaisons from Federal agencies including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), CDC, and the Veterans Health Administration. The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act requests that AHRQ convene a cross agency working group to propose a strategy to enhance scientific research to improve diagnosis in healthcare.

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