Strauss Health Sciences Library
University of Colorado
I was fortunate to receive a Professional Development Award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine MidContinental Region, and I used it to attend the 12th Annual Diagnostic Error in Medicine Conference, presented by the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM). The conference took place in Washington, DC from November 11th to the 13th. As a clinical librarian at the Strauss Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the problem of diagnostic error and learn how I could support my patrons in the diagnostic process.
There were roughly 500 people in attendance at the conference, the majority of whom were physicians, residents, and medical students. Another difference between this and medical librarian conferences is that SIDM invited patients and patient advocates to attend the conference at a reduced price. Each day started with a brief statement from a patient or family member of someone affected by diagnostic error, including misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis. It was a powerful way to start each day, and a good reminder of why we were there. On the last day of the conference there was an extended session of presentations by family members, including a discussion of how they partnered with clinicians and policy makers to advocate for policy changes.
Diagnostic error can be rooted in system-related errors, such as an inefficient organizational processes, or cognitive errors, which could include insufficient knowledge or critical thinking and synthesis skills. I was more interested in the latter, and how library resources or librarian services could play a role. One of the sessions addressed improving diagnosis by improving competency-based education. The author discussed the SIDM’s three-year project to develop a consensus Curriculum to Improve Diagnosis. The curriculum includes key competencies with learning objectives and milestones.
Patients were also encouraged to play an active role in decreasing diagnostic error. I learned about the Checklist for Getting the Right Diagnosis, which can be used with patients and their caregivers to make sure they’re communicating complete and accurate information to their providers. This could be an important resource for consumer health librarians to provide to their patrons.
I enjoyed the conference and getting to learn about a problem that is important to the patrons I work with, and appreciate the support provided by MCR.