5 ways measuring the diagnostic process can reduce errors

There are many ways that measurement can be used in the diagnostic process and in assessing the incidence of diagnostic errors, according to the committee that authored the Institute of Medicine's recent "Improving Diagnosis in Health Care" report.

The five primary reasons to measure diagnostic errors are to:

1. Establish the frequency and nature of the diagnostic error problem. By assessing diagnostic errors, providers may be able to better characterize the size and dimensionality of the problem and may better track diagnostic error rates over time.

2. Ascertain the causes and risks of errors in the diagnostic process. Determining what causes or increases the risk of errors will allow providers to construct approaches to prevent or detect problems more rapidly.

3. Assess the efficacy of interventions. Providers can implement programs designed to prevent, detect and correct diagnostic errors, but these programs need to be quantitatively and qualitatively measured to see whether the interventions worked.

4. Examine the outcomes of education and training efforts. Having measurement tools that can gauge the initial training of healthcare professionals, the outcomes of ongoing education programs and the competency of those professionals can provide valuable feedback.

5. Begin creating a framework for accountability. The authoring committee recognized that building an accountability framework based on diagnostic errors may be premature, but measuring errors can help motivate health professionals to do the right thing by their patients, thereby improving diagnostic performance.

To read the full report, click here.

 

 

More articles on diagnostics:
10 ways nurses can improve diagnoses, reduce errors
IOM report outlines 8 goals to improve diagnosis, reduce errors
IOM releases landmark report on improving diagnostics in healthcare: 5 key issues

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