Medical Errors, Patient Safety and the Role of ‘Precision’ Diagnostic Medicine

by Gregg A. Masters, MPH

November 6th- 8th 2016 the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) hosts it’s ‘Diagnostic Error in Medicine 9th International Conference in Los Angeles, California.SIDM Diagnostic Error in Medicine

Diagnostic error is defined as:

diagnosis that is wrong, missed or delayed

is estimated in the 5% to 15% range.

Considering the national spend approximates $3 trillion per annum, we’re talking about ‘collateral’ or iatrogenic consequences of hundreds of billions of dollars of unnecessary spend and more often than not less than optimal patient outcomes and experience.

Further, a recent John’s Hopkins School of Medicine study suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.‘, noting:

  • 10 percent of all U.S. deaths are now due to medical error
  • Third highest cause of death in the U.S. is medical error; and
  • Medical errors are an under-recognized cause of death

Clearly in the innovation age, amidst an industry often characterized by ossified‘ or ‘calcified’ change resistant legacy inertia, grafting the tech developer’s fail fast and iterate mindset into a precision medicine, genome informed, big data assimilated ‘new, new, and better thing‘ is not without substantial risk to our friends, family, loved ones and colleagues. Yet, healthcare and medicine’s innovation imperative is neither optional nor discretionary. We are in the midst of a giant paradigm shift from volume to value where the emphasis is focused on doing the right thing, to the right patient at the right time. The lofty goal of the triple aim calls on all of us to improve the experience of care, the outcomes of care processes and at lower per capita costs. No small challenge amidst an industry often plagued with internecine (cognitive v. procedural) warfare!

Given the often mission critical nature of accurate diagnosis to appropriate collaborative, team based intervention and thus optimal outcomes, the Society for Improved Diagnosis in Medicine was founded with the following Mission and Vision.SIDM Mission and Vision

In it’s welcome remarks, it’s President and Founder notes:

There are probably no cognitive tasks more challenging than diagnosis in medicine. There are over 10,000 known diseases and this list grows every year.

Being able to match a patient’s problems to one of these entities requires a remarkable ability to synthesize information and integrate this with knowledge acquired over years of training and experience. We honor those physicians who do this well, and celebrate the fact that diagnosis is so often correct.

That diagnosis succeeds is a testament to the dedication and skill of physicians, their teachers, the healthcare systems that enable the process, and the countless individuals and organizations that have created the diagnostic testing capabilities we enjoy today.  We also recognize that we could do better. When diagnosis is delayed or wrong, patients can be harmed, instead of helped by our efforts.

Our Society is dedicated to honoring all those who have been harmed by diagnostic error. We will all be patients some day, and we will all want the same thing: That our diagnosis is made quickly, accurately, efficiently, and safely. The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine will strive to unite everyone and every organization that shares this vision so that we can focus on how to improve the diagnostic process.

Your energy, skill, and dedication will drive this improvement effort. Thanks for your interest in joining our quest to improve diagnosis – we need and appreciate your help and support.

Mark L Graber, MD FACP
President and Founder, Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine


If you can, join us in Los Angeles for a community of physicians, clinicians, academics and resarchers who’ve devoted themselves to this vital and timely contribution to the triple aim and our collective well being.

The program schedule is here, and Keynote and remaining Faculty here.

Health Innovation Media will be interviewing select participants and posting them here and here.

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