Diagnostic errors not included in patient safety reports

Studies have shown that about one-in-ten patients suffers from a diagnostic error, which represents 17% of all adverse events, according to an article in Health Affairs.

However, unlike other medical errors, diagnostic errors have not received comparable attention. The article suggests that this is because they are challenging to measure and less amenable to systemwide solutions. It is also difficult to hold hospitals accountable, since diagnostic errors usually result from cognitive mistakes on the part of one or more members of the medical staff.

The authors suggest that decision support technologies, better training, and increasing acknowledgment of the problem may help to reduce this type of error in the future.

(Sources: Health Affairs, http://content.healthaffairs.org, September, 2010; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, September 10, 2010)