Placing Diagnosis Errors on the Policy Agenda

According to a recent study published in BMJ, nearly one in 20, or roughly 12 million U.S. adults, are affected by diagnosis errors every year. Many of these errors produce avoidable disability or death, and are often costly; yet they are rarely recognized in public policy as a serious quality and safety problem. This report explores the challenges of measuring diagnosis errors and why it is difficult to estimate the extent of the problem. The report presents reasons why certain types of errors are common, and offers suggestions for placing the issues on the public policy agenda.

Suggested policy initiatives to reduce diagnosis errors include:

  • Enhanced research
  • Improved “conditions of participation” in Medicare
  • Quality improvement and collaboration
  • Follow-up and feedback
  • Fundamental medical malpractice reform
  • Improved technology and electronic health records
  • Payment reform
  • Medical education reform