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March 11, 2009

Diagnostic Errors—The Next Frontier for Patient Safety

JAMA. 2009;301(10):1060-1062. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.249

During the past decade, awareness and understanding of medical errors have expanded rapidly, with an energetic patient safety movement promoting safer health care through “systems” solutions. Efforts have focused on translating evidence into practice, mitigating hazards from therapies, and improving culture and communication. Diagnostic errors have received relatively little attention. Although the science of error measurement is underdeveloped, diagnostic errors are an important source of preventable harm.1-3 In this Commentary, we offer definitions for diagnostic error and misdiagnosis-related harm, present an overview of the magnitude of diagnostic errors, and give suggestions for how research can mature.