Institute of Medicine makes suggestions for improving accuracy of medical diagnoses

The nonprofit Institute of Medicine called for improving the quality of medical diagnoses in its latest "quality chasm" series of reports. Diagnostic errors account for about 10% of patient deaths and adverse events. Among the recommendations made were stronger engagement with patients and their families, more transparency about diagnostic errors that so providers can improve over time and receive better feedback (though the report says this would require reforms the medical liability system), and improved professional education and testing. There were some device-specific suggestions as well, including increased used of diagnostic testing and better integration of health information technology into the diagnostic process. To improve training, the report recommended that time spent by radiologists and pathologists on advising physicians about testing should be made reimbursable by the government. "Diagnosis is a collective effort that often involves a team of health care professionals--from primary care physicians, to nurses, to pathologists and radiologists," said John Ball, chair of the committee and executive vice president emeritus, American College of Physicians. "The stereotype of a single physician contemplating a patient case and discerning a diagnosis is not always accurate, and a diagnostic error is not always due to human error. Therefore, to make the changes necessary to reduce diagnostic errors in our health care system, we have to look more broadly at improving the entire process of how a diagnosis made." Read the release | Download the report | A summary of the suggestions (PDF)