While doctors may seem like trustworthy sources, the reality is that like all other humans, doctors make mistakes too. Diagnostic errors in medicine cause up to 10 percent of patient deaths and thousands of negative events in patient care every year. A new report from the Institute of Medicine outlines why the health care industry should change the way it attends to errors in diagnosis, and how to solve some of these problems to prevent unnecessary injuries or deaths.

The report is among a series that began 15 years ago in the hopes of improving hospital care, diagnoses, and patient safety.

“Diagnostic errors stem from many causes,” the authors wrote. They note that some of these causes might involve “a health care work system that is not well designed to support the diagnostic process… and a culture that discourages transparency and disclosure of diagnostic errors, which in turn may impede attempts to learn from these events and improve diagnosis.”

Among some of the solutions that the report outlines, the authors note the importance of teamwork and collaboration between doctors, nurses, patients, and families to keep communication clear between all moving parts. Another area of improvement resides in making IT in hospitals more effective — as overwhelming amounts of patient data and auto-fill can get jumbled up easily.

Most significantly, patients should take initiative in questioning their doctors. “There’s a real opportunity for patients to advocate for themselves and at the same time to challenge the health care providers about the diagnosis being made,” Dr. Michael Cohen, an author of the report and a pathologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, told NPR. Ask questions such as: What else could these symptoms mean? Should I get a second opinion?

The TED talk below further describes — from a long-time physician’s own point of view — how doctors tend to make mistakes, but cover them up and refuse to talk about them due to the culture of shame and denial in health care. Perhaps if we work together as patients and doctors, we can overcome preventable errors.