Patient safety culture, health information technology implementation, and medical office problems that could lead to diagnostic error.
Identifying and addressing diagnostic error in the ambulatory setting remains an ongoing challenge. Incorrect or delayed diagnoses can subject patients to unnecessary testing and delays in care that lead to harm. Using AHRQ safety culture survey results from 925 medical offices across the United States, researchers sought to understand the association between safety culture, health information technology (IT) implementation, and the incidence of problems that could contribute to diagnostic error in outpatient care, such as missing or unavailable test results and records. The most frequently cited problem was missing test results, with about 15% of offices in the study citing that it occurred daily or weekly. Better safety culture scores were associated with fewer problems, and practices undergoing health IT implementation reported more problems. A past WebM&M commentary highlighted an incident involving a delay in cancer diagnosis.