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IOM: Most U.S. Patients Will Experience Diagnostic Error

Panel urges changes to an increasingly complex health care system

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A new report commissioned by the U.S. government contends that most Americans will encounter at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with severe consequences for their physical and mental health.

The report was released Tuesday by an independent panel at the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and is the latest in a series that have examined the ongoing issue of medical errors. Focusing this time on missed or mistaken diagnoses, the panel noted that diagnosis has always been “a collaborative and inherently inexact process.”

“Diagnosis is a collective effort that often involves a team of health care professionals — from primary care physicians, to nurses, to pathologists and radiologists,” John Ball, M.D., J.D., chairman of the IOM committee behind the report and executive vice president emeritus of the American College of Physicians, said in an IOM news release.

The new IOM report stressed that there are many players involved in the diagnostic process, and more must be done to help coordinate care. These partners include: patients and their families; health care organizations; the legal system; and health care professionals. Doctors and other staff may need training that focuses on “clinical reasoning, teamwork, communication, and diagnostic testing,” according to the news release.

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