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Art Papier

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Physicians can’t ‘memorize it all’



Children memorizing parts of the Koran in Mauritania.

Art Papier, M.D., writes:

“The recently published diagnostic errors report, ‘Improving Diagnosis in Health Care,’ ┬áby the Institute of Medicine (IOM) will receive much attention, as it should. … {T}he new report will be transformative because it substantiates how large a problem misdiagnosis is, and will force the medical care system to work on solutions.”

“There are many steps to be taken. One immediate action is to recognize that physicians cannot memorize it all — they require the best information at the right time, which is at the point of care. To curb medical misdiagnosis, our model of what a doctor is and does must change. The IOM diagnostic errors report forces us to think about augmenting our brains, not with simple computer-based references or reliance on more tests, genetic studies, and x-rays, but with new cognitive support systems designed to pull the history and physical exam together to answer questions as we work. New digital systems accessible on smart devices IOMwill engage patients and replace the outdated waiting room clipboard screening questionnaires. Now that the IOM is helping the public realize the extent of the diagnostic errors problem, we can start to invest in new point-of-care information tools as well as new methods to aid thinking, and hopefully diminish the number of patients who are misdiagnosed every year.”

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