Watchdog urges hospitals to determinedly strive for ‘excellence in diagnosis,’ suggests 29 ways to proceed

At least once per quarter, U.S. hospitals should convene a tumor board or similar assemblage in which radiologists and pathologists jointly review patient cases notable for discrepancies between clinical impressions, radiology reports and lab results.

Hospitals also should establish and maintain an interdisciplinary process to reconcile discrepant results identified in or prior to such meetings.

These are among 29 actions the Leapfrog Group suggests hospitals take in order to consistently avoid serious errors in medical diagnostics.

The independent, nonprofit watchdog group lays out its evidence-based suggestions in a report issued July 28, “Recognizing Excellence in Diagnosis: Recommended Practices for Hospitals.”

Also pertaining directly to radiology in the report, the organization advises hospitals to have ready access to a radiologist 24/7 either onsite or via teleradiology—not only to read emergency exams but also to supply input on imaging test selection.

In a news release, Leapfrog says the report is the fruit of a yearlong effort to receive and organize input from experts on diagnostic excellence. The sources included physicians, nurses, patients, employers and health insurers.

The new report marks the first step in a long-term project in which the group will work to “rate hospitals and publicly report on their diagnostic excellence in the future,” the organization explains, adding that the initiative is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

In the report’s foreword, Leapfrog Group CEO Leah Binder stresses that “no individual clinician practices in a vacuum,” suggesting hospitals must maintain robust ways and means to doggedly govern procedures, protocols and rules.

Binder writes:

We assume all people working in healthcare will make mistakes because they are human, but we rely on systems to prevent those errors from harming the patient. Similarly, the issue of diagnostic errors is a systems issue. We assume errors will be made at every stage in the diagnostic process, but systems should be in place to prevent those human errors from causing harm to the patient.”

News release here, full report here.

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