Diagnostic Error Project

Patient Engagement

Patients are recognised as being important in the diagnostic process and are a part of the team. A patient or person centred approach is known to improve teamwork and communication.

Collecting and understanding a patient’s complete history is a crucial step in the diagnostic process. When a patient is admitted to hospital, their focus can be distracted. This is often confounded by the stress of their illness, being in unfamiliar surroundings, and other social and emotional factors impacting their ability to think clearly and communicate effectively. Conversely, clinicians need to be skilled listeners and interviewers. Busy workload, long hours and noisy environments impact a clinician’s ability to collect and analyse clinical information effectively. This leads to breakdowns in the diagnostic process, increasing the potential for a diagnostic error to occur.

A focus on improving communication between clinicians and patients during history taking is an important step to aid accurate and timely diagnosis. Improving partnerships with patients to reduce the incidence of diagnostic error is one of the strategies that the CEC is exploring. Key focus areas include:
  • Increased engagement of patients in the diagnostic process
  • Increased clinicians engagement with patients when formulating a diagnosis
  • Decreased number of missed or delayed diagnosis when patients are admitted to the wards from ED
  • Improved patient and staff experience

Find more information about Partnering with Patients here