Cecil E, Bottle A, Majeed A, et al. Br J Gen Pract. 2021;71:e547-e554.
There has been an increased focus on patient safety, including missed diagnosis, in primary care in recent years. This cohort study evaluated the incidence of emergency hospital admission within 3 days of a visit with a GP with missed sepsis, ectopic pregnancy, urinary tract infection or pulmonary embolism. Shorter duration of appointment and telephone appointment (compared with in person) were associated with increased incidence of self-referred emergency hospital admission.
Burrus S, Hall M, Tooley E, et al. Pediatrics. 2021;148:e2020030346.
Based on analysis of four years of data submitted to the Child Health Patient Safety Organization (CHILDPSO), researchers sought to identify types of serious safety events and contributing factors. Three main groups of serious safety events were identified: patient care management, procedural errors, and product or device errors. Contributing factors included lack of situational awareness, process failures, and failure to communicate effectively.
Fatemi Y, Coffin SE. Diagnosis (Berl). 2021;8:525-531.
Using case studies, this commentary describes how availability bias, diagnostic momentum, and premature closure resulted in delayed diagnosis for three pediatric patients first diagnosed with COVID-19. The authors highlight cognitive and systems factors that influenced this diagnostic error.
Cheraghi-Sohi S, Holland F, Singh H, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30:977-985.
Diagnostic error continues to be a source of preventable patient harm. The authors undertook a retrospective review of primary care consultations to identify incidence, origin and avoidable harm of missed diagnostic opportunities (MDO). Nearly three-quarters of MDO involved multiple process breakdowns (e.g., history taking, misinterpretation of diagnostic tests, or lack of follow up). Just over one third resulted in moderate to severe avoidable patient harm. Because the majority of MDO involve several contributing factors, interventions, including policy changes, should be multipronged.
Cifra CL, Sittig DF, Singh H. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30:591-597.
Accurate and timely feedback about patient outcomes can inform and improve future clinical decision-making; however, many barriers exist that prevent effective feedback. This article suggests a sociotechnical approach using information technology (IT) to provide clinician feedback. Feedback sent using the electronic health record can be provided asynchronously, by any member of the care team, and in a structured format to ensure relevance and usefulness.
DeGrave AJ, Janizek JD, Lee S-I. Nat Mach Intell. 2021;3:610–619.
Artificial intelligence (AI) systems can support diagnostic decision-making. This study evaluates diagnostic “shortcuts” learned by AI systems in detecting COVID-19 in chest radiographs. Results reveal a need for better training data, improved choice in the prediction task, and external validation of the AI system prior to dissemination and implementations in different hospitals.
Misdiagnosis of child abuse has far-reaching implications. This commentary discusses the ethical tensions faced by pediatric radiologists of both over- and under-diagnosing child abuse. The author suggests ways that physicians and professional societies can partner with legal advocates to create a more balanced pool of experts to alleviate perceptions of bias and acknowledge harms of misdiagnosed child abuse.
Barwise A, Leppin A, Dong Y, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:239-248.
Diagnostic errors and delays continue to be a widespread patient safety concern in hospitalized patients. Researchers conducted focus groups with key clinician stakeholders to determine factors that contribute to diagnostic error and delay. Clinicians indicated that organizational, interactional, clinician, and patient factors all interact to cause errors and delays. These diverse factors must be considered when implementing interventions to reduce diagnostic errors and delays.
Kostopoulou O, Tracey C, Delaney BC. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28:1461-1467.
In addition to being used for patient-specific clinical purposes, data within the electronic health record (EHR) may be used for other purposes including epidemiological research. Researchers in the UK developed and tested a clinical decision support system (CDSS) to evaluate changes in the types and number of observations that primary care physicians entered into the EHR during simulated patient encounters. Physicians documented more clinical observations using the CDSS compared to the standard electronic health record. The increase in documented clinical observations has the potential to improve validity of research developed from EHR data.
Zwaan L, El-Kareh R, Meyer AND, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2021;36:2943-2951.
Reducing harm related to diagnostic error remains a major focus within patient safety. Based on input from an international group of experts and stakeholders, the authors identified priority questions to advance diagnostic safety research. High-priority areas include strengthening teamwork factors (such as the role of nurses in diagnosis), addressing system factors, and strategies for engaging patients in the diagnostic process.
Zhou Y, Walter FM, Singh H, et al. Cancers (Basel). 2021;13:156.
Delays in cancer diagnosis can lead to treatment delays and patient harm. This study linking primary care and cancer registry data found that more than one-quarter of bladder and kidney cancer patients presenting with fast-tract referral features did not achieve a timely diagnosis. These findings suggest inadequate adherence to guidelines intended to help identify patients with high risk of cancer based on the presence of alarm signs and symptoms.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to wide-ranging changes to health care delivery, some of which may negatively impact patient outcomes.The authors use a syndemic perspective to discuss existing challenges interfering with diagnosis (structural, socioeconomic, patient-related, and provider-related), how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated those challenges, and strategies related to nurse practitioners and community health workers to improve diagnosis.
Ricci-Cabello I, Gangannagaripalli J, Mounce LTA, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e20-e27.
Patient safety in primary care is an emerging focus. This cross-sectional study across primary care clinics in England explored the main factors contributing to patient-reported harm experiences. Factors included incidents related to communication, care coordination, and incorrect or delayed; diagnosis and/or treatment.
Avery AJ, Sheehan C, Bell B, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30:961-976.
Patient safety in primary care is an emerging focus for research and policy. The authors of this study retrospectively reviewed case notes from 14,407 primary care patients in the United Kingdom. Their analysis identified three primary types of avoidable harm in primary care – problems with diagnoses, medication-related problems, and delayed referrals. The authors suggest several methods to reduce avoidable harm in primary care, including optimizing existing information technology, enhanced team communication and coordination, and greater continuity of care.
Avesar M, Erez A, Essakow J, et al. Diagnosis (Berl). 2021;8:358-367.
Disruptive and rude behavior can hinder teamwork and diminish patient safety. This randomized, simulation-based study including attendings, fellows, and residents explored whether rudeness during handoff affects the likelihood for challenging a diagnostic error. The authors found that rudeness may disproportionally hinder diagnostic performance among less experienced physicians.
Delvaux N, Piessens V, Burghgraeve TD, et al. Implement Sci. 2020;15:100.
Clinical decision support systems (CDSS) and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) have the potential to improve patient safety. This randomized trial evaluated the impact of integrating CDSS into CPOE among general practitioners in Belgium. The intervention improved appropriateness and decreased volume of laboratory test ordering and did not show any increases in diagnostic errors.
Wright B, Lennox A, Graber ML, et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2020;20:897.
Incomplete or delayed test result communication can contribute to diagnostic errors, delayed treatments and patient harm. The authors synthesized systematic and narrative reviews from multiple perspectives discussing diagnostic test result communication failures. The review identified several avenues for improving closed-loop communication through the use of technology, audit and feedback, and use of point-of-care or bedside testing.
Sundwall DN, Munger MA, Tak CR, et al. Health Equity. 2020;4:430-437.
This study surveyed 9,206 adults across the United States about their perceptions of medical errors occurring in ambulatory care settings. Thirty-six percent of respondents perceived that their doctor has ever made a mistake, provided an incorrect diagnosis, or given an incorrect (or delayed) treatment. According to these findings, patient-perceived medical errors and harms occurred most commonly in women and those in poor health with comorbid conditions.
Pelaccia T, Messman AM, Kline JA. Patient Edu Couns. 2020;103:1650-1656.
The hectic and complex environment of emergency care can reduce diagnostic safety. This article discusses clinical reasoning and decision-making strategies used by emergency medicine physicians, contributing factors to diagnostic errors occurring in emergency medicine (e.g., overconfidence, cognitive stress, anchoring bias), and strategies to reduce the risk of error. A previous WebM&M commentary discussed an incident involving diagnostic delay in the emergency department.
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