Most work analyzing medical errors to date has focused on problems that occur once patients have been treated, such as wrong-side surgeries and infections, said Lisa McGiffert, director of the Consumer Union's Safe Patient Project. “There has not been much in terms of checks and balances to address diagnostic errors,” she said. (See this week's Q&A)
That's why expectations are high for a Sept. 22 report from the National Academy of Medicine. A multidisciplinary team has been meeting for more than a year to evaluate existing data, get a sense of the burden of harm and costs associated with diagnostic mistakes and create national standards.
In anticipation, more than a dozen leading healthcare organizations and medical societies announced in August the formation of the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis.
Participants include the National Patient Safety Foundation, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also includes the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, which will host its eighth annual Diagnostic Error in Medicine Conference Sept. 27-29 in Washington, D.C.
In a related note, last week the National Institutes of Health began accepting online patient applications for its Undiagnosed Diseases Network. The program investigates diseases that are difficult to diagnose or are unrecognized forms of more common diseases.