Diagnostic test results help physicians make critical treatment decisions about conditions ranging from cancer and heart disease to diabetes and infectious diseases. However, mistakes that occur during the diagnostic process can have serious consequences. On September 22, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) released a report showing that diagnostic errors contribute to approximately 10% of patient deaths and that most people will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime.
To reduce the cost, suffering, and loss of life that comes from these errors, the report calls for healthcare professionals to work and communicate more effectively with each other and with patients and their families. AACC and its members are committed to collaborating with other healthcare professionals to ensure patients receive the full benefit of today’s powerful diagnostic tools. AACC has compiled resources to help patients, laboratory medicine experts, and other healthcare workers accomplish this:
Involving Patients in the Diagnostic Process
Lab Tests Online
Patients know their bodies better than anyone else. Their input and that of their families is crucial to making accurate, timely diagnoses. The National Academy of Medicine recognizes this and urges healthcare professionals to make it easier for patients to participate in the diagnostic process, particularly by giving them opportunities to learn more about it.
To find out more about diagnostic tests, patients can visit AACC’s website Lab Tests Online.
Lab Tests Online provides patients with information on the many clinical lab tests that are part of routine care as well as diagnosis and treatment of a broad range of conditions and diseases.
The rise of direct-to-consumer laboratory testing is enabling people to order diagnostic tests directly from a lab without having to work with their healthcare provider. These direct-to-consumer tests enable individuals to take greater control over their own healthcare, but also come with unique risks.
To learn more about the benefits and limitations of direct-to-consumer testing, read AACC’s overview of and position statement on the subject.
Collaborating With Laboratory Medicine Experts
Because doctors and their staff are challenged with keeping pace with general medical knowledge, the National Academy of Medicine recommends they capitalize on the expertise of laboratory medicine professionals to ensure that the most effective tests are ordered for patients, and that the test results are interpreted and used appropriately.
Read AACC’s official response to the report to learn more.
AACC’s informational piece, Laboratory Medicine: Advancing Quality in Patient Care, also provides more information on laboratory medicine professionals and how they have improved healthcare and patient outcomes.
Other AACC Resources on Patient Safety
Articles regularly published by AACC exploring how laboratory medicine professionals can promote patient safety:
Information on global efforts to ensure that lab tests produce consistent results, a goal that is known as harmonization:
AACC’s continuing education programs that enable laboratory medicine professionals to keep up with the latest patient safety improvement measures: