The patient experience of diagnostic error

Graber, Mark Mark.Graber at VA.GOV
Sun Oct 20 00:55:02 UTC 2013

Hi Tim - you've asked an interesting question and I'd be interested to know the answer too.  I'm not aware of any studies that have studied the patient's reactions to diagnostic error.  Lets see what others say, but the door may be open for you to be the first to study this.

Our Society has been discussing the possibility of sponsoring a web site for patients to tell their diagnostic error stories.  This would be an ideal place to identify patients who might be willing to participate in such a study.  In the meantime, I'm sure the people on this listserv could help you identify a good number of such patients if you wanted us to do that.  I'm just not sure the patients we know would be a representative sample though, as you might imagine.


Mark L Graber, MD FACP
Senior Fellow, RTI International
Professor Emeritus, SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine
Founder and President, Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine
Phone:   919 990-8497

From: "Siggs, Tim" <ts228 at LEICESTER.AC.UK>
Reply-To: Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine <IMPROVEDX at LIST.IMPROVEDIAGNOSIS.ORG>, "Siggs, Tim" <ts228 at LEICESTER.AC.UK>
Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2013 08:01:35 -0400
Subject: [IMPROVEDX] The patient experience of diagnostic error

Good afternoon all,

I am a Clinical Psychology trainee at the University of Leicester, UK, with an interest in Diagnostic Error and am conducting research into this area for my doctoral thesis. As a clinical psychologist to be,I am particularly interested in the patient experience of diagnostic error with a view to understand the implications of either experiencing, or perceiving the experience of, a diagnostic error with reference to future health behaviours in patients with chronic illnesses e.g. self management of a chronic condition, adjustment, treatment adherence etc. I have followed this listserv for a number of months and have found it to be an interesting and insightful source of topical information, thank you all.

I am writing today to ask for thoughts and suggestions regarding my research both generally and for a specific question. Firstly there appears to be a lack of published studies exploring the depth of experiencing diagnostic error from a patient perspective, there are several studies looking at adverse events as a whole which include diagnostic error within them (e.g. Elder et al., 2005; Entwistle et al., 2010; Kistler et al., 2010; Kuzel et al., 2004; Mazor et al., 2012; Molassiotis et al., 2009; Ocloo, 2010), but do not offer specification of the diagnostic error experience in itself, and I believe that the impact may be very different for diagnostic error. I feel that illuminating this perspective may help to address the psychological and emotional impact of diagnostic error such as that which can present in a medical psychology department, and this knowledge may also inform ideas regarding the process of diagnostic error from the patient's perspective. So my question to ask is does anyone know of any studies, particularly qualitative, that examine the patient experience of diagnostic error or have any particular thoughts on this topic area? In particular I'm interested to know if there are any identified (evidence based?) approaches to supporting patients who have experienced diagnostic error anyone is aware of?

Having searched much of the literature I am cognizant of the moves to bring the patient into the patient safety process and also diagnostic error and hope that my proposed research can add to this. Any thoughts or ideas you may have are welcomed.

Many Thanks


Tim Siggs
Trainee Clinical Psychologist
University of Leicester

Moderator: Lorri Zipperer Lorri at, Communication co-chair, Society for Improving Diagnosis in Medicine

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