In healthcare, accurate and timely diagnoses are the foundation for effective clinical practice. Often, diagnostic errors affect the health of numerous people in the United States. Diagnosis of diseases and infections is a complex subject that is difficult to measure and evaluate patient safety. Most of us experience diagnostic errors in our lifetime. Amidst diagnostic errors, administering medicine or other treatment measures may, in turn, hurt the patient, thus damaging their health. The National Quality Forum endorsed more than 600 steps in the US to be utilized in the enhancement of healthcare performance. In this policymaking process, the government aims to address the below challenges of diagnostic procedures (Singh, Graber & Hofer, 2019). The next section suggests measures to diagnostic safety and correct understanding of diagnostic error.
Accuracy: In some instances, inaccuracy can be obvious, especially when the symptoms of an illness are mistaken for another. In other situations, inaccuracy can be hard to define, especially when the results of a diagnostic process reveal a disease of close similarity to another (Wachter, 2010). In this process, the mental models for clinicians may differ, which causes them to have different perceptions. In that regard, other predefined operational constructs can cause uncertainties based on their approach to the diagnostic process. For instance, the acute coronary syndrome can manifest in different forms during the diagnostic process. Due to clinicians’ variance in the process approach, the condition can be mistaken for other syndromes.
Timeliness: In the US, there are no definite diagnostic standards set on the duration that a diagnostic process should take. However, the optimal diagnostic performance may not entirely be based on speed. Some illnesses or health conditions may require faster diagnosis than others. For instance, a malignancy from the compression of the spinal cord should be diagnosed faster compared to asthma. Timeliness definition is dependent on the urgency and severity of the condition. Also, timeliness should be determined by the repercussions of delays.
The choice of a diagnostic process, in my own opinion, is primarily defined by the strategies set by the management of a health institution. In describing this process, a balance has to exist between the benefits, monetary costs, and the risks involved. Furthermore, the patient could be involved in evaluating the diagnostic process that is effective for them based on the above three conditions. As a result, this strategy creates a system where every health practitioner is accountable for the diagnostic process they either recommend or undertake on a patient.
Suggestions for safe diagnosis
In the diagnostic process, most opportunities are missed, where timely diagnosis and correct evidence would have been collected. In the assumption that sufficient motivation exists to address the challenges of diagnosis, numerous suggestions by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ.com) can help hospitals prevent adverse events in the diagnostic processes.
Build better teams and rapid response systems. Hospitals are responsible for training their staff on effective communication in a group set up. For it to enhance fast response systems, strategies to improve performance and safety should be backed by evidence-based practices. In the diagnostic processes, these teams will ensure that all illnesses and infections are addressed. In that regard, these teams are required to have teamwork and communication skills to facilitate the rapid response process.
Educate patients on the preliminary treatment process. In diagnosis, the bearer of the health condition is the patient, and they understand their feelings better. This means they may have vital information that would guide the diagnostic and testing process. For instance, when having stomach pains, the patient’s expression for such pain will guide a clinician on the preliminary tests he or she will do to understand the condition from which they are suffering. Furthermore, there are medications that a patient can get prescription directly when they know their health problems. For example, in the case of asthma, having a breather and other ready medications will prevent adversity when the situation worsens, and the patient cannot access health attention immediately.
In conclusion, diagnostic safety and quality are essentially dependent on a health organization’s dedication to delivering to the preferences of their patients and the recommendations of global health organizations. In the diagnostic process, the challenges identified here are accuracy and timeliness. Accurate results in the diagnostic process are determined by the willingness of healthcare teams to follow the procedures set by the hospital to diagnose and treat specific illnesses. Some of the suggestions to avert the adversity of diagnostic errors include educating patients on the processes of treatment and various diseases for awareness purposes. Also, building response teams and systems in the hospital will ensure that different motives and experiences of healthcare professionals do not become a barrier in delivering quality healthcare services. Therefore, training of staff and integration of communication processes should be enhanced to guarantee timely delivery of information. As a result, it will create strategic systems that will optimize most of the methods in the sector.
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Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). www.ahrq.gov/topics/diagnostic-safety-and-quality.html
Singh, H., Graber, M. L., & Hofer, T. P. (2019). Measures to improve diagnostic safety in clinical practice. Journal of patient safety, 15(4), 311.
Wachter, R. M. (2010). Why diagnostic errors don’t get any respect—and what can be done about them. Health Affairs, 29(9), 1605-1610.