A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine analyzes options for preventing diagnostic errors.

The study, titled “Patient Safety Strategies Targeted at Diagnostic Errors: A Systematic Review,” which aims to assess the multitude of interventions to prevent diagnostic errors and better understand their effectiveness, is found for free here.

The authors identified 109 studies, including 14 randomized trials, of interventions that targeted diagnostic errors and addressed patient-related outcomes.

Approaches to reduce errors may involve technical, cognitive, and systems-oriented strategies tailored to specific conditions or settings.

Interventions included personnel changes, educational interventions, technique, structured process changes, technology-based systems interventions, and review methods. The evidence appeared strongest for technology-based systems (for example, text message alerting) and specific techniques (for example, testing equipment adaptations).

The authors note that evidence is lacking on the costs of interventions and implementation, particularly how to reduce diagnostic errors without producing other diagnostic problems, such as overuse of tests.

Patient Safety Strategies Targeted at Diagnostic Errors: A Systematic Review
McDonald KM, Matesic B, Contopoulos-Ioannidis D, Lonhart J, Schmidt E, Pineda N, Ioannidis JPA. Ann Intern Med. 2013;158(5 Part 2):381-389.

[Source: Annals of Internal Medicine]