December 23, 2015 – Error Detection


Anchor lead:  What is needed to interrupt diagnostic errors in medicine? Elizabeth Tracey reports

The National Institute of Medicine recently released the alarming finding that virtually all Americans will experience an error in diagnosis at some point in their lifetime, and health care practitioners are scurrying to further characterize the problem, with a recent study suggesting that the first thing we need is measurement.  David Newman-Toker, a diagnostic errors expert at Johns Hopkins, agrees.

Newman-Toker: Measurement is key, and probably the place where we most need to start in diagnostic errors.  We’ve done a lot of work in the background looking at the overall impact of diagnostic errors, but we still need better operational measures, that we can measure in real time to assess where we’re doing well, where we’re doing badly, and how  our interventions are impacting that for better and for worse.  We’ve had some measurements that are useful but it’s difficult to measure diagnostic errors in real time because they’re typically detected after the fact.   :31

Newman-Toker says an accurate gauge of the problem is the foundation for a solution.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.