Do you have experience with diagnostic error?  Have you ever brought your car or computer to be fixed and you get it back and it seems like the problem starts happening again after a few days?  You have probably encountered diagnostic error with numerous patients and you (and they) may have never known.  Diagnostic error can include over-diagnosis, misdiagnosis, missed diagnosis, or severely delayed diagnosis.

If you are a person who provides diagnoses, chances are you have been part of a diagnostic error and not even known it.  Consider trying to track your diagnostic accuracy to see how well you are actually treating your patients.  Try a follow-up phone call and simply ask them if they think you identified their root problem. Also, consider these diagnosis myths as you take a good look at your own practice.

If you are not responsible for diagnosing, tell your patients about the potential problem and consider advocating for them… especially the ones who have been led to believe “it’s all in their head.”

Diagnosis Myths from a Patient’s Perspective

  • “No news is good news” – make sure you follow-up with lab results.
  • “The more tests I have, the better accuracy of my diagnosis” – explain why this isn’t always the case.
  • “My doctors are talking to one another” – remind your patients of their role in their health care coordination.

Diagnostic Myths from a Provider’s Perspective

  • “I don’t have any diagnostic error problems” – take a closer look.
  • “Reimbursement doesn’t change my behavior” – take a closer look again.
  • “I always do a complete differential diagnosis” – are you sure?

It’s always good to take a look at our practice and make sure we are providing the best possible diagnostic care for our patients.  Are you?

Our Guest Blogger this week is Meredith Masel, PhD, MSW, Oliver Center for Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare

Join us for a real-time discussion about questions raised by this essay on Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room:

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