Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 489–494

Reducing Diagnostic Errors through Effective Communication: Harnessing the Power of Information Technology

  • Hardeep Singh
  • Aanand Dinkar Naik
  • Raghuram Rao
  • Laura Ann Petersen
Perspectives

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-007-0393-z

Cite this article as:
Singh, H., Naik, A.D., Rao, R. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2008) 23: 489. doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0393-z

Abstract

Diagnostic errors are poorly understood despite being a frequent cause of medical errors. Recent efforts have aimed to advance the "basic science" of diagnostic error prevention by tracing errors to their most basic origins. Although a refined theory of diagnostic error prevention will take years to formulate, we focus on communication breakdown, a major contributor to diagnostic errors and an increasingly recognized preventable factor in medical mishaps. We describe a comprehensive framework that integrates the potential sources of communication breakdowns within the diagnostic process and identifies vulnerable steps in the diagnostic process where various types of communication breakdowns can precipitate error. We then discuss potential information technology-based interventions that may have efficacy in preventing one or more forms of these breakdowns. These possible intervention strategies include using new technologies to enhance communication between health providers and health systems, improve patient involvement, and facilitate management of information in the medical record.

KEY WORDS

diagnostic errorspatient safetycommunicationinformation technology

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hardeep Singh
    • 1
    • 3
  • Aanand Dinkar Naik
    • 2
    • 3
  • Raghuram Rao
    • 4
  • Laura Ann Petersen
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Health Policy and Quality Program, Houston Center for Quality of Care and Utilization Studies, and The Center of Inquiry to Improve Outpatient Safety Through Effective Electronic Communication at theMichael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical CenterHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Health Decision-Making and Communication ProgramHouston Center for Quality of Care and Utilization Studies, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical CenterHoustonUSA
  3. 3.The Section of Health Services Research, Department of MedicineBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  4. 4.Baylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA