Accurate measurement key to combat misdiagnosis

Proper, accurate measurement is crucial to addressing the growing issue of medical misdiagnosis, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In order to establish a realistic picture of the misdiagnosis problem, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee had to synthesize the existing body of data, according to the authors of the JAMA piece. The authors set forth five purposes for careful analysis and dedicated research in measuring diagnostic errors:

  1. Establish the magnitude and nature of the problem
  2. Determine the causes and risks of diagnostic error
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of interventions
  4. Assess skills in education and training
  5. Establish accountability for diagnostic performance

The research comes in the wake of a recent report from the IOM that found most patients will experience a medical error at some point in their lifetimes. Patient safety experts such as Mark Graber, M.D., founder and president of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine and a member of the report committee, called the IOM report a "major milestone in the effort to improve diagnoses, quality of care and patient outcomes."

However, as the researchers noted, it will require an "all in" approach for healthcare personnel to tackle the problem, due to the sheer complexity of the diagnostic process.

The IOM committee, they said, recommended that healthcare providers and hospitals monitor the diagnostic process to identify and learn from any diagnostic errors or near-errors they encounter, prioritizing such activities in their ongoing quality improvement and error reduction programs, according to the article.

To learn more:
- read the article