Operational Measurement of Diagnostic Safety: An AHRQ Issue Brief from a MedStar Health Collaborative Team

A new issue brief was released by the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) as part of their contract with MedStar Health and partners, focused on developing additional capacity related to understanding and improving diagnostic safety.

Operational Measurement of Diagnostic Safety: State of the Science is an issue brief from AHRQ’s Patient Safety Program, reports that although few healthcare organizations have implemented systematic measurement of diagnostic errors, nearly all can use existing resources to monitor diagnostic safety for learning and improvement. Diagnostic errors affect approximately 1 in 20 U.S. adults each year, and reducing their incidence is an AHRQ priority. The issue brief includes a “call to action” for healthcare organizations to begin measurement efforts using data sources currently available to them to identify and learn from diagnostic errors.

This issue brief was authored by Hardeep Singh, M.D., M.P.H. and Andrea Bradford, Ph. D from the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety (IQuESt), Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. and Christine Goeschel, Sc.D., RN, FAAN, MedStar Health Institute for Quality and Safety, AHRQ Patient Safety Learning Lab Grantee, and AHRQ National Advisory Council member. Dr. Goeschel is also a Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University.

“Measurement of diagnostic performance is necessary for any systematic effort to improve diagnostic quality and safety, yet the development of diagnostic safety measures remains in its infancy. Our intent is to provide pragmatic and feasible ways for organizations to start using measurement to identify, prioritize, and address local diagnostic safety opportunities.” said Dr. Goeschel.

The issue brief has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Diagnosis.

This work is part of a multi-year MedStar AHRQ ACTION contract that funds work and expertise related to building capacity to improve diagnostic safety and clinical quality. MedStar Health has partnered with Dr. Singh and his team to develop novel resources, tools and programs aimed at reducing diagnostic errors and related patient harm. Read the press release on the contract here.