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Halsey-Nichols M, McCoin N. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2021;39:703-717.
Diagnostic errors among patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with abdominal pain are common. This article summarizes the factors associated with missed diagnoses of abdominal pain in the ED, the types of abdominal pain that are commonly misdiagnosed, and recommended steps for discharging a patient with abdominal pain without a final diagnosis.
Freeman K, Geppert J, Stinton C, et al. BMJ. 2021;374:n1872.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been used and studied in multiple healthcare processes, including detecting patient deterioration and surgical decision making. This literature review focuses on studies using AI to detect breast cancer in mammography screening practice. The authors recommend additional prospective studies before using artificial intelligence in clinical practice. 
Ly DP. Ann Emerg Med. 2021;78:650-657.
A common type of diagnostic error is availability bias, or diagnosing a patient based on experiences with past similar cases. This study examined whether an emergency physician’s recent experience of a patient presenting with shortness of breath and diagnosed with pulmonary embolism increased subsequent pulmonary embolism diagnoses. While pulmonary embolism diagnosis did increase over the following ten days, that effect did not persist over the 50 days following the first 10 days.
Meyer AND, Giardina TD, Khawaja L, et al. Patient Educ Couns. 2021;104:2606-2615.
Diagnostic uncertainty can lead to misdiagnosis and delayed treatment. This article provides an overview of the literature on diagnosis-related uncertainty, where uncertainty occurs in the diagnostic process and outlines recommendations for managing diagnostic uncertainty.
Rosenkrantz AB, Siegal D, Skillings JA, et al. J Am Coll Radiol. 2021;18:1310-1316.
Prior research found that cancer, infections, and vascular events (the “big three”) account for nearly half of all serious misdiagnosis-related harm identified in malpractice claims. This retrospective analysis of malpractice claims data from 2008 to 2017 found that oncology-related errors represented the largest source of radiology malpractice cases with diagnostic allegations. Imaging misinterpretation was the primary contributing factor.
Seidl E, Seidl O. J Healthc Risk Manag. 2021;41:9-17.
Diagnostic safety is a patient safety priority across all medical specialties. Over a five-year period, researchers found that 15% of patients referred for psychosomatic consultations at one university hospital were misdiagnosed. Misdiagnosis was primarily attributed to availability bias or other biases. Semi-structured interviews with referring physicians highlight the contributing role of physician attitudes and unusual clinical features.
Bell SK, Bourgeois FC, DesRoches CM, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;31:526-540.
Engaging patients and families in their own care can improve outcomes, safety, and satisfaction. This study brought patients, families, clinicians and experts together to identify patient-reported diagnostic process-related breakdowns. The group identified 7 categories, 40 subcategories, 19 contributing factors and 11 patient-reported impacts. Breakdowns were identified in each step of the diagnostic process.
Sibbald M, Monteiro SD, Sherbino J, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;31:426-433.
Diagnostic safety remains a patient safety priority. This randomized study including emergency medicine and internal medicine physicians as well as medical students found that electronic differential diagnostic support increased the likelihood that the correct diagnosis appeared in the differential, regardless of whether the tool was used early or late in the diagnostic process.
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.
Griffin JA, Carr K, Bersani K, et al. Diagnosis (Berl). 2022;9:77-88.
Diagnostic errors in the acute care setting can result in increased morbidity and mortality. Using the Diagnostic Error Evaluation and Research (DEER) taxonomy, researchers reviewed 16 records of patients whose deaths were associated with at least one medical error. Most (81.3%) patients had at least one diagnostic error and a total of 113 failure points and 30 significant failure points.
Pinnock R, Ritchie D, Gallagher S, et al. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2021;26:785-809.
Cognition is a recognized human factor that can contribute to medical error. This systematic review explored whether mindful practice can improve diagnosis in healthcare. Of the 33 included studies, the majority were non-empirical; however, the authors tentatively conclude that mindful practice may be a promising method to improve diagnostic accuracy and reduce error.
Kwok CS, Bennett S, Azam Z, et al. Crit Pathw Cardiol. 2021;20:155-162.
Misdiagnosis of cardiovascular conditions can lead to serious patient harm. This systematic review found that misdiagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) occurs in approximately 1-2% of cases, and AMI is commonly diagnosed as other heart conditions, musculoskeletal pain, or gastrointestinal disease. The authors suggest that there are opportunities to reduce cases of missed AMI with better education about atypical symptoms and improved training of electrocardiogram interpretation.
Fernández‐Aguilar C, Martín‐Martín JJ, Minué Lorenzo S, et al. J Eval Clin Pract. 2022;28:135-141.
Heuristics, or the use of mental shortcuts based on experience or trial and error that allow clinicians to quickly assess or diagnose a problem, can sometimes result in misdiagnosis. Three types of heuristics are explored in this study of primary care diagnostic error: representativeness, availability, and overconfidence. While a diagnostic error was identified in nearly 10% of cases, there was no significant correlation between the use of heuristics and diagnostic error.
Kukielka E. Patient Saf. 2021;3:18-27.
Trauma patients, who often suffer multiple, severe injuries and who may arrive to the Emergency Department (ED) unconscious, are vulnerable to adverse events. Using data reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS), researchers in this study evaluated the safety challenges of caring for patients presenting to the ED after a motor vehicle collision. Common challenges included issues with monitoring, treatment, evaluation, and/or documentation, patient falls, medication errors, and problems with transfers.
Kim S, Goelz L, Münn F, et al. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2021;22:589.
Late diagnosis of upper extremity fractures can lead to delays in treatment. When two radiologists reviewed whole-body CT scans, each missed known fractures and identified previously unknown fractures. Slice thickness was not significantly associated with missed fractures; however, missed and late diagnosis occurred more often between the hours of 5pm and 1am.
Michelson KA, Reeves SD, Grubenhoff JA, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4:e2122248.
Diagnostic errors, including delayed diagnoses, continue to be a patient safety concern. This case-control study of children treated at five pediatric emergency departments explored the preventability of delayed diagnosis of pediatric appendicitis and associated outcomes. Researchers estimated that 23% of delayed diagnosis cases were likely to be preventable and that delayed diagnosis led to longer hospital length of stay, higher perforation rates, and additional surgical procedures.
Raghuram N, Alodan K, Bartels U, et al. Virchows Archiv. 2021;478:1179-1185.
Autopsies are an important tool for identifying diagnostic errors. This retrospective study of 821 pediatric cancer deaths found that 10% had a major diagnostic discrepancy between antemortem and postmortem diagnoses. These discrepancies primarily consisted of missed infections, missed cancer diagnoses, and organ complications.
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.
van der Zanden M, de Kok L, Nelen WLDM, et al. Diagnosis (Berl). 2021;8:333-339.
Endometriosis is a common clinical condition that is often subject to missed or delayed diagnosis. This qualitative study explored patients’ perspectives on the diagnostic process of endometriosis. Findings suggest that the diagnosis of endometriosis is hindered by delayed consultation, inadequate understanding and appraisal of symptoms by general practitioners, and inadequate communication between patients and providers.