- Diagnostic errors result in an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 deaths per year
- Three clinical categories – cardiovascular events, infections and cancers – are responsible for a disproportionate share of serious harm and preventable death
Nearly every American will experience a diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with devastating consequences, as estimated by the National Academy of Medicine in its report Improving Diagnosis in Health Care. Diagnostic errors are the most common cause of medical errors reported by patients, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all errors and an estimated 40,000-80,000 deaths per year.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation will invest $85 million during the next six years to improve diagnostic performance through its Diagnostic Excellence Initiative. The initiative aims to reduce harm from erroneous or delayed diagnoses, reduce costs and redundancy in the diagnostic process, improve health outcomes and save lives.
“Achieving excellence in diagnosis goes beyond avoiding errors and includes consideration of cost, timeliness and patient convenience,” said Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., president of the Moore Foundation. “Designing an optimal diagnostic process will likely require a careful balancing among competing demands.”
The initiative’s first area of focus is strengthening accountability for diagnostic excellence by helping to develop and validate new measures for diagnostic performance. Starting with infrastructure is important because currently U.S. health care systems are unable to systemically measure diagnostic performance in real time, which limits the ability to quantify performance and guide improvements. As the adage goes, “you can’t improve what you can’t measure.”
Three clinical categories – cardiovascular events, infections and cancers – are responsible for a disproportionate share of serious harm and preventable death because of sub-optimal diagnosis. The initiative will concentrate on these conditions. In addition, the foundation will explore opportunities to support growth and capacity of the field of diagnosis, preparing leaders dedicated to working on the issue of diagnostic excellence. And, assess the potential for new technologies to improve diagnostic performance, working to both minimize barriers for innovation and advocate for the safe and responsible deployment of these technologies.