Monash Working Towards Safer Diagnosis

Making accurate diagnoses can be a challenge for healthcare professionals. As patients, the majority of us will be the subject of at least one significant diagnostic error in our lifetime.

Now in its’ second year, the Australian Diagnostic Error in Medicine Conference (AusDEM) took place last month, bringing together thought-leaders in the field of diagnostic safety.

The theme for this year focused on ‘Communicating for safer diagnosis’and included the importance of communication between clinicians and patients for safer diagnosis.

Professor Michelle Leech, Deputy Dean at Monash’s Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences was a keynote speaker at the conference, presenting on ‘Deconstructing clinical reasoning for medical students’ and how to build on this throughout your education and career.

There was a strong Monash presence at the conference, with Dr Cicily Nesbit, Dr Cameron Knott, Jennifer Lindley, and A/Prof Anne Powell, all presenting. The interactive opening plenary session called “stump the trumps” was led by Associate Professor Julia Harrison from the Monash School of Medicine. This session required delegates to work through a difficult diagnosis with two “chumps” up on stage, as information was slowly drip-fed to them.

Another highlight from the conference was the keynote speech delivered by Dr Lisa Sanders, Associate Professor at Yale School of Medicine. Since 2002, Lisa has been writing the bi-weekly diagnosis column for the New York Times Magazine. Her column was the inspiration for the hit TV series, House MD, for which she was an advisor.

Monash students had an exclusive opportunity to hear Lisa speak at Monash Medical Centre at our Clayton campus. Lisa spoke to a group of 300 final year students about the importance of doing work that you enjoy and the need to truly listen to patients as they share their stories, despite the time pressures the students will experience once junior doctors.

Lisa is currently working on a documentary series based on her column, scheduled to air on Netflix later this year.