Most medical interventions produce positive outcomes. However, medical errors, including diagnostic errors, may cause harm to patients by preventing or delaying appropriate treatment or providing unnecessary or harmful treatment, which could have psychological or financial repercussions. Medical errors can result in repetitive testing, unnecessary procedures, and extended hospital stays. These errors increase overall costs to health insurance companies and individuals. Medical errors may leave a patient with a comorbidity or disability.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) helped to shine a light on the problem of medical errors and provided strategies to minimize the number of preventable errors through its published reports, To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System (2000) and Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century (2001).
Improving Diagnosis in Health Care (2015) is a continuation of those landmark reports. This most recent report focuses on the diagnostic process and diagnostic errors. The committee concludes that most people will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime, sometimes with devastating consequences.