Understanding human causes of diagnostic errors can lead to more specific targeted, specific recommendations and interventions. Using three classification instruments, researchers examined a series of serious adverse events related to diagnostic errors in the emergency department. Most of the human errors were based on intended actions and could be classified as mistakes or violations. Errors were more frequently made during the assessment and testing phases of the diagnostic process.
Incomplete nursing care can negatively affect care quality and safety. This rapid review found that missed or omitted nursing care in adults contributes to increased mortality, adverse events, and clinical deterioration. Included studies cited several causes (e.g., environmental factors, staffing levels and skill mix) as well as solutions (e.g., education, process redesign).
A wide array of biases can affect clinical judgement and contribute to diagnostic error. This article discusses the impact of implicit biases, test inaccuracy, and data weaknesses in diagnosis of mental health conditions in both children and adults. The author provides recommendations for clinicians and researchers to reduce the impact of bias on diagnosis.
Patients who are treated by emergency medical services (EMS) personnel but not transported to the hospital are referred to as non-conveyed patients. In this retrospective cohort study, researchers found that older adult patients in Sweden are at an increased risk of adverse events (such as infection, hospitalization, or death) within 7-days following non-conveyance.
Vo J, Gillman A, Mitchell K, et al. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2021;25:17-24.
Racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare can affect patient safety and contribute to adverse health outcomes. This review outlines the impact of health disparities and treatment decision-making biases (implicit bias, default bias, delay discounting, and availability bias) on cancer-related adverse effects among Black cancer survivors. The authors identify several ways that nurses to help mitigate health disparity-related adverse treatment effects, such as providing culturally appropriate care; assessing patient health literacy and comprehension; educating, empowering, and advocating for patients; and adhering to evidence-based guidelines for monitoring and management of treatment-related adverse events. The authors also discuss the importance of ongoing training on the impact of structural racism, ways to mitigate its effects, and the role of research and implementation to reduce implicit bias.
Rosenthal CM, Parker DM, Thompson LA. JAMA Pediatr. 2022;176:119-120.
The care of child abuse victims is affected by resource, racial and infrastructure challenges. This commentary describes how the systemic weaknesses catalyzed by poor data collection approaches contribute to misdiagnosis and suggests that successes be mined to minimize the proliferation of continued disparities in this patient population.
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.
This cross-sectional study examined whether racial/ethnic disparities in interhospital transfers (IHT) for common medical diagnoses such as heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, stroke, and sepsis, impact mortality outcomes. The authors analyzed 899,557 patients and reported that Black patients had lower odds of IHT compared to White patients, while Hispanic patient had higher odds of IHT compared with White patients. The authors propose several possible explanations including differences in Black and Hispanic willingness to transfer, impact of insurance status and reimbursement rates, coding inaccuracies, and other complex dynamics for their findings.
Zestcott CA, Spece L, McDermott D, et al. J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2021;8:230-236.
Implicit bias can contribute to poor decision-making and lead to poor patient outcomes. This qualitative study found that many healthcare providers have negative implicit attitudes about American Indians, such as implicitly stereotyping American Indians as noncompliant patients. The effect of these implicit attitudes and stereotypes was moderated by self-reported cultural competency and implicit bias training.
Olson APJ, Linzer M, Schiff GD. J Gen Intern Care. 2021;36:1404-1406.
Challenges to identifying and measuring diagnostic errors, particularly in the era of COVID-19, persist. The authors of this perspective proposed a new framework of diagnostic process safety to measure the quality and safety of diagnostic processes. The framework focuses on three measurable components – do not miss diagnoses, red flags, and diagnostic pitfalls. This framework can provide a structured approach for designing and testing specific measures of diagnostic process safety.
Structural racism affects both population and individual health. This article proposes four key areas in which the medical and public health communities can contribute in order to change policy and social norms: documenting the impact of racism on health; improving the collection and availability of race and ethnicity data; turning the lens to themselves; and, acknowledging that structural racism has been challenged by mass social movements.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected the psychological and emotional well-being of health care workers. This article summarizes the COVID-19-related psychological effects on healthcare workers and the detrimental impact on team effectiveness. The authors recommended actions to mitigate the effects of stress on team performance and patient outcomes and discuss how teams can recover and learn from the current crisis to prepare for future challenges.
Mangrum R, Stewart MD, Gifford DR, et al. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2020;21:1587-1591.e2.
Building upon earlier work, the authors engaged a technical expert panel to reach consensus on a definition for omissions of care in nursing homes. The article details the terms and concepts included in (and excluded from) the proposed definition, provides examples of omissions of care, intended uses (e.g., to guide quality improvement activities or training and education), and describes the implications of the definition for clinical practice, policy, and research.
Griffith PB, Doherty C, Smeltzer SC, et al. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2020;33:862-871.
Cognitive debiasing can help reduce cognitive bias and improve clinical decision-making. This scoping review characterized cognitive debiasing strategies used by student health care providers (primarily medical students and residents) to reduce cognitive error. Structured reflection and education initiatives demonstrated the greatest improvements in diagnostic accuracy.
Brommelsiek M, Said T, Gray M, et al. Am J Surg. 2021;221:980-986.
Silence in the operating room (OR) can have implications on surgical team function and patient safety. Through interviews with interprofessional surgical team members, the authors explored the influence of silence on team action in the OR and found that silence in the surgical environment – whether due to team cohesion or individual defiance – has implications for team functions.
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.
This study explored the benefits of reflection on diagnostic errors among internal medicine physicians in Switzerland, and found that diagnostic accuracy increased significantly between the initial diagnosis and the final diagnosis reached after reflection, regardless of the type of reflection used.
Oliveira J. e Silva L, Vidor MV, Zarpellon de Araújo V, et al. Mayo Clin Proc. 2020;95:1842-1844.
This article discusses the threat that the “flexibilization” of science has played during the COVID-19 pandemic, defined as the loosening of methodological standards leading to low-quality studies, and resulting in unreliable data and anecdotal evidence.
Gupta A, Quinn M, Saint S, et al. Diagnosis (Berl). 2021;8:167-175.
This article describes the use of a case-based simulation to explore how physicians reason, create differential diagnoses, and ultimately achieve a correct diagnosis. Participating physicians who achieved the correct diagnosis (herpes zoster) utilized systems-based or anatomic approaches, rather than focuses on life-threatening diagnoses alone, and employed debiasing strategies.
Drey N, Gould D, Purssell E, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2020;29:756-763.
This thematic analysis explored variations in the impact of hand hygiene interventions to prevent healthcare-associated infections. The analysis identified several directions for future research, including exploring ways to avoid the Hawthorne effect, embed the interventions into wider patient safety initiatives, and develop systematic approaches to implementation.
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