Patient Safety Week to focus on diagnostic error


Diagnostic error will be the main focus as the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) leads Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 2-8, 2014.

This year’s theme, Navigate Your Health…Safely, highlighted the need for healthcare providers to ensure that patients and consumers are more engaged in the healthcare process, whether they are visiting the doctor for a routine exam or entering the hospital for surgery.

“All of us will be patients at some point in life, and we should approach that experience the way we would approach any important journey—with careful planning and communication,” said NPSF president Dr Tejal Gandhi. “Navigate Your Health…Safely reminds us that providing safe patient care can best be achieved when patients are key members of the team and are encouraged to take an active role in their care.”

A patient’s health journey starts with diagnosis, but experts estimate that up to one in every 10 diagnoses is wrong, delayed, or missed completely and that, collectively, diagnostic errors may account for 40,000-80,000 deaths per year in the US.

For Patient Safety Awareness Week 2014, NPSF has teamed up with the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) to develop and disseminate educational materials for clinicians, health systems, and patients and consumers specifically related to better understanding and prevention of diagnostic errors. These resources will be available on the NPSF website during Patient Safety Awareness Week.

In collaboration with SIDM and with sponsorship from the Cautious Patient Foundation, NPSF is also presenting a series of webcasts on this topic. The sessions include ‘Patient and Family Engagement to Prevent Diagnostic Error’, on March 3; ‘Diagnostic Safety in an EHR-enabled Healthcare System’, on March 21; and ‘How to Do a Root Cause Analysis of Diagnostic Error’, on Wednesday, March 26.

“We will never achieve the quality of healthcare we want or deserve until the problem of diagnostic error is addressed,” says Dr Mark Graber, MD, founder and president of SIDM and senior fellow at RTI International.

“Physicians have options they can use to improve the diagnostic process, but this is not just the physician’s problem to solve. Patients, other healthcare providers, and healthcare organizations can also help prevent diagnostic errors. Patient Safety Awareness Week will have achieved its goal if it increases awareness of the problem, and the many opportunities available to prevent diagnostic errors and harm.”

Patient, Safety Week, diagnostic error, NPSF, SIDM