The challenges in defining and measuring diagnostic error

Laura Zwaan*, Hardeep Singh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Diagnostic errors have emerged as a serious patient safety problem but they are hard to detect and complex to define. At the research summit of the 2013 Diagnostic Error in Medicine 6th International Conference, we convened a multidisciplinary expert panel to discuss challenges in defining and measuring diagnostic errors in real-world settings. In this paper, we synthesize these discussions and outline key research challenges in operationalizing the definition and measurement of diagnostic error. Some of these challenges include 1) difficulties in determining error when the disease or diagnosis is evolving over time and in different care settings, 2) accounting for a balance between underdiagnosis and overaggressive diagnostic pursuits, and 3) determining disease diagnosis likelihood and severity in hindsight. We also build on these discussions to describe how some of these challenges can be addressed while conducting research on measuring diagnostic error.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-103
JournalDiagnosis
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

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