Operational measurement of diagnostic safety: state of the science

Diagnosis (Berl). 2020 Jul 24;8(1):51-65. doi: 10.1515/dx-2020-0045. Print 2021 Feb 23.


Reducing the incidence of diagnostic errors is increasingly a priority for government, professional, and philanthropic organizations. Several obstacles to measurement of diagnostic safety have hampered progress toward this goal. Although a coordinated national strategy to measure diagnostic safety remains an aspirational goal, recent research has yielded practical guidance for healthcare organizations to start using measurement to enhance diagnostic safety. This paper, concurrently published as an Issue Brief by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, issues a "call to action" for healthcare organizations to begin measurement efforts using data sources currently available to them. Our aims are to outline the state of the science and provide practical recommendations for organizations to start identifying and learning from diagnostic errors. Whether by strategically leveraging current resources or building additional capacity for data gathering, nearly all organizations can begin their journeys to measure and reduce preventable diagnostic harm.

Keywords: diagnostic errors; diagnostic harm; diagnostic safety; learning health system; measurement; patient safety; quality and safety.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • Humans