Defining excellence: next steps for practicing clinicians seeking to prevent diagnostic error

Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives


The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its report on diagnostic errors in September, 2015. The report highlights the urgency of reducing errors and calls for system-level intervention and changes in our basic clinical interactions. Using the report's controversial definition of diagnostic error as a starting point, we introduce the issues and the potential impact on practicing physicians. We report a case used to illustrate this in an academic conference. Finally, we turn to the challenge of integrating these ideas into the traditional peer-review process. We argue that the medical community must evolve from understanding diagnostic failures to redesigning the diagnostic process. We should see errors as steps toward diagnostic excellence and reliable processes that minimize the risk of mislabeling and harm.



Publication Date

Fall 9-7-2016