Dubosh NM, Edlow JA, Goto T, et al. Ann Emerg Med. 2019;74:549-561.
Misdiagnosis of a neurologic emergency such as stroke can lead to serious morbidity or mortality. Using a large multi-state database, this study examined the likelihood of readmission or inpatient mortality among patients who were initially discharged with nonspecific diagnoses of headache or back pain and found that 0.5% of headache and 0.2% of back pain patients experienced an inpatient death or serious neurological event after ED discharge. Extrapolated to a national level, this translates to over 55,000 patients with adverse outcomes due to a missed diagnosis for headache or back pain.
Medford-Davis LN, Singh H, Mahajan P. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2018;65:1097-1105.
The busy and complex emergency department environment harbors pressures can that hinder diagnostic safety. This review discusses the characteristics of emergency medicine that contribute to overreliance on heuristics and susceptibility to bias in decision making. The authors highlight the need to better monitor diagnostic error in the emergency department to inform the design of improvement activities. A previous WebM&M commentary discussed diagnostic delay in the emergency department.
Using a case report, the authors discuss a series of errors and illustrate the concepts of active and latent failures. They suggest systems-oriented improvements to both the technique and catheter kit used.
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