Van Hollen Introduces Legislation to Reduce Medical Diagnostic Errors
Data shows diagnostic errors affect more than 12 million Americans annually, contribute to approximately 10 percent of patient deaths
Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced the Improving Diagnosis in Medicine Act, legislation to reduce diagnostic errors in our healthcare system. The Senator’s legislation seeks to address the alarming rates of diagnostic error in our country and mitigate the devastating impacts these errors can have. According to a 2015 report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, diagnostic errors affect more than 12 million Americans each year and likely cause more harm to patients than all other medical errors combined. The study also found that most people will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, and postmortem examination research has shown that diagnostic errors contribute to approximately 10 percent of patient deaths. Estimates show that the waste associated with diagnostic errors costs our healthcare system over $100 billion annually.
To tackle these issues, Senator Van Hollen’s bill would create a new Interagency Council on Improving Diagnosis in Health Care as well as a new grant program for the establishment and maintenance of Research Centers of Diagnostic Excellence – such as the Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence at Johns Hopkins – that advance research and progress in diagnostic quality, safety, and value in health care. This legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) and Gus Bilirakis (R-Fl.).
“When a patient is ill, a quick and accurate diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. But far too many Americans face misdiagnoses – ending in tragic consequences. Not only does diagnostic error cost lives – it also costs our healthcare system and patients billions of dollars each year. Addressing these errors is crucial to improving results for patients and saving lives. This legislation tackles that challenge and will put the necessary funding behind efforts to reduce diagnostic error. I urge my colleagues to take up this common-sense proposal immediately,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“Diagnostic errors are the most common, catastrophic and costly of all medical errors. We need focused research initiatives to help us understand, apply and spread the best interventions to improve diagnostic quality and safety,” said Paul Epner, CEO and Co-Founder of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. “This legislation, introduced by Senator Van Hollen, recognizes that every American deserves an accurate, timely and communicated diagnosis. By providing multi-year support to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s diagnostic quality efforts, Senator Van Hollen is taking an important step to address this serious and complex patient safety concern.”
Diagnostic errors stem from a wide variety of causes, including inadequate communication between providers, patients, and their families; the absence of metrics to gauge performance limited feedback to clinicians about diagnostic performance; a lack of information for patients on navigating the diagnostic process; and a culture that discourages transparency and disclosure of diagnostic errors, which impedes attempts to learn from these events and improve diagnosis. The National Academies study concluded that: “Despite the pervasiveness of diagnostic errors and the risk for serious patient harm, diagnostic errors have been largely unappreciated within the quality and patient safety movements in health care.”
The Improving Diagnosis in Medicine Act would:
- Authorize a federal grant program for the establishment and maintenance of Research Centers of Diagnostic Excellence that advance research and progress in diagnostic quality, safety, and value in health care
- Establish an Interagency Council on Improving Diagnosis in Health Care to:
- Enhance the quality, appropriateness, and effectiveness of diagnosis in health care;
- Identify and eliminate systemic barriers to supporting research in improving diagnosis in health care;
- Identify knowledge gaps, research needs, and policy and program deficiencies associated with the diagnostic process and in clinical and health system delivery;
- Create core diagnostic research services and interdisciplinary teams to facilitate diagnostic research;
- Build capacity by training and developing a highly-qualified diagnostic research workforce; and
- Establish valid operational measures of diagnostic error
Text of the legislation can be found here.
Next Article Previous Article