Diagnostic Safety Research Resource Center

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New to the idea of diagnostic safety research? If you're new to the topic, we suggest you start with the 'Overview' tab. Read a few of the introductory articles on diagnostic errors, focusing on the big picture of diagnostic errors as a public health and patient safety problem. Then pick an area you or your institution might be interested in studying (e.g., burden of diagnostic errors). Click the tab for that area to see some examples of how to approach the problem. If you're intrigued and want to learn more, read on, and, when you're ready, click the 'Get Involved' tab.

Want to be a diagnostic safety researcher, but not sure where to start? If you've already decided that this is the field for you, but you haven't yet figured out how to make it happen, start with the 'Overview' tab. If you haven't already, read a few of the introductory articles on conceptual models, definitions, and research methods. Identify the area you're most interested in researching (e.g., error causes), and read carefully through that section to learn a bit about what is known and where important gaps exist. In your reading, think carefully about what you need to succeed at this point in your career ― is it more technical skills and knowledge about research methods? identifying possible funding sources? finding a mentor? getting your work published? From there, move to the 'Get Involved' tab and focus on what you think your primary needs are.

Are you an experienced safety researcher looking to collaborate or branch out? Since you self-identified as an experienced researcher, we suspect you probably already know what you need to know. Most likely, you want to find out how you can quickly engage with those doing work related to your area. If you are considering a move from another area of patient safety, health services, or clinical research, start with the 'Overview' tab for a general introduction to the problem, as well as core issues surrounding conceptual models and definitions. Otherwise, go directly to the 'Get Involved' tab and reach out!

Build Skills View

  • Training opportunities
    • High-quality mentorship is essential to conducting research and discussing your research and/or career track in this field with someone knowledgeable in this area might be very valuable for you.
    • As yet, there are no formal, degree-bearing diagnostic safety research training fellowships. Although supporting or fostering such fellowships is one of SIDM’s long-term goals, for now, we must rely on other available opportunities. These fall into three main categories:
      (1) non-degree-bearing post-doctoral research fellowships with an established investigator;
      (2) certificate programs and other related learning opportunities;
      (3) degree-bearing research training programs.
      Note that the goals of advanced training and prerequisites for specific training programs may differ slightly for those in different health-related professions (e.g., medicine, psychology, nursing, physical therapy, dentistry).
    • Post-doctoral Research Fellowships: in the future, we plan to establish a link on the website for current post-doc fellowship postings. In the meantime, click the ‘Get Involved’ tab and find the Researcher Database under the ‘Make a Connection’ link. We have asked researchers to list whether they have any post-doctoral training opportunities available.
    • Degree Programs for Health Professionals: There are numerous degree-bearing training programs whose content can be applied effectively to diagnostic safety research. These include both Masters’ level (1-2 years) and PhD (3-7 years) programs. There are traditional programs in Public Health (MPH) and epidemiology (PhD), although many programs tailored more specifically to medical research have now been developed (e.g., ‘clinical epidemiology’ (MSCE), ‘clinical and translational investigation’ (MPCTI), ‘clinical investigation’ (MSci, PhD), or ‘health services research’ (PhD)). Related fields such as psychology, human factors, informatics, and social sciences, all have relevance to diagnostic error and might be useful for your consideration.
    • When choosing a program, it is important to make sure that the program emphasis allows for a focus on patient safety, clinical outcomes research, or health services research, since some of these programs place a heavy emphasis on basic science translation, drug development, and clinical trials (skills which are generally less helpful in preparing for a research career related to diagnostic safety and quality). A partial list of programs may be found at the NLM website.
  • Team building
    • Diagnostic safety research generally requires a multidisciplinary team that includes clinicians, psychologists and a host of other disciplines such as human factors, informatics, social sciences working together. This AHRQ Web M&M interview might have useful tips for you if you are thinking about a research career in diagnostic safety.

Seek Funding  View

  • Pressing gaps in diagnostic error research
    • The SIDM research committee is charged with helping to identify current gaps in diagnostic safety research. Future documents will address this issue. Recent systematic reviews, however, have shown that few studies have rigorously evaluated interventions to reduce diagnostic error, and that outcomes assessed are highly heterogeneous making cumulative analysis of evidence-base difficult. More fundamentally, definitions of diagnostic error vary leading to challenges and diverse approaches to counting this patient safety target. Despite the alternative approaches to measuring the problem, gaps are being rapidly filled with respect to the epidemiology of diagnostic errors. However, this area of research remains fruitful for further work to broaden settings examined, understand patterns of causal factors within subgroups of patients and settings. Little information is available on ‘near misses’, a concept more richly studied in other areas of patient safety. Similarly, there is a surprising paucity of research on patient experiences of diagnostic error, ways that they perceive what went wrong in their diagnostic journey, and how they might contribute to reducing the risk of these events. Further research is sorely needed to prioritize targets for cost-effective interventions to reduce diagnostic errors. Finally, more research is needed on policy-level effects on diagnostic practice and safety.
  • Best bets for funding Diagnostic Error research
  • Search for current grants
    • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) maintains an interactive registry of current and past federal research grants known as the NIH RePORTER. Grant abstract text keyword searches on diagnosis, diagnostic, or diagnostic errors when crossed with specific research topics (e.g., cancer) can help identify relevant grants. These can then be used to identify research projects to avoid (already in progress), current gaps (no projects currently funded), or potential collaborators.

Make a Connection View

  • Identify potential collaborators or mentors in the researcher database (Coming Soon)
  • Research methods journal club
    • The Diagnostic Error in Medicine Journal Club is a quarterly program that generates novel discussions on scholarship and academic advancement, including ideas for new research methodologies and projects. In addition, it aims to promote collaboration and new researchers in the field. Sessions focus on a recent publication of interest to the diagnostic error field and the author fields a variety of questions. Format of the webinar includes 4-5 slides overview of the paper (10-15 mins) followed by 40 mins of discussion with Q&A from the audience. Prior to event, audience members who register could either send questions in advance or ask on the call. Authors have some discussion points or lessons learned ready to engage the audience.
    • Audience can pose any question related to article production, including questions regarding rationale or goals of the study, methods, challenges to project completion or manuscript publication, implementation of study findings, the author's motivation for writing the article, methods of engagement with editors and reviewers, future implications, next study, grant funding for the study etc.
  • Volunteer for SIDM or DEM (SIDM committee, DEM research, add content, meet people)

Publish your Research View

  • Publishing diagnostic safety research
    • Try to build on what has been done in the field and think of studies to show new perspectives relevant to solving the diagnostic error problem in real-world clinical settings. Do your homework before you start—go through the bibliography and PubMed and AHRQ PSNet to review the established literature so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Discuss and present your ideas, solicit and improve with feedback from mentors and colleagues and review for other journals to improve the final product.
  • Journals interested in publishing diagnostic errors research
    • Because diagnosis impacts many aspects of health care, there are many journals that may be appropriate for publication of diagnostic-related research. Some, such as Diagnosis and BMJ Quality and Safety, focus a great deal on describing the diagnostic process and reducing diagnostic errors. There are also many field-specific journals for Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Informatics, etc.
  • Research reporting guidelines
    • Many studies may have a design for which some journals will require specific reporting guidelines, the archetype of which are the CONSORT guidelines for reporting clinical trials. Rather than try to anticipate the variety of study designs your Diagnostic Error studies might take we refer you to a reporting guidelines clearinghouse where you can review and consider the appropriate reporting guidelines. Individual journal websites would be the best source for whether it is required to follow specific guidelines or not. Equator network

Help Fund Research View

Diagnostic safety research remains underserved relative to the public health importance of diagnostic errors to patient and population health. If you believe you can help foster or support diagnostic errors research in some way, we’d like to hear from you. Possible ways to help including making a donation to support SIDM, funding an individual or recurring research fellowship, developing a grant-funding program as an individual or organization, lobbying or grass-roots advocacy for diagnostic safety funding, or earmarked funding for a particular diagnostic topic, project, or investigator.