Incomplete or delayed communication of imaging results can result in harm to the patient and have legal ramifications for the providers involved. This commentary presents a closed-loop communication model for the ordering clinician and radiologist. The model suggests the ordering clinician categorize the radiology report as “concordant” or “discordant”, and if discordant, provide an explanation.
Atallah F, Hamm RF, Davidson CM, et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2022;227:B2-B10.
The reduction of cognitive bias is generating increased interest as a diagnostic error reduction strategy. This statement introduces the concept of cognitive bias and discusses methods to manage the presence of bias in obstetrics such as debiasing training and teamwork.
Plint AC, Newton AS, Stang A, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;Epub Jul 19.
While adverse events (AE) in pediatric emergency departments are rare, the majority are considered preventable. This study reports on the proportion of pediatric patients experiencing an AE within 21 days of an emergency department visit, whether the AE may have been preventable, and the type of AE (e.g., management, diagnostic). Results show 3% of children experienced at least one AE, most of which were preventable.
Li W, Stimec J, Camp M, et al. J Emerg Med. 2022;62:524-533.
While pediatric musculoskeletal radiograph misinterpretations are rare, it is important to know what features of the image area are associated with false-positive or false-negative diagnoses. In this study, pediatric emergency medicine physicians were asked to interpret radiographs with and without known fractures. False-positive diagnosis (i.e., a fracture was identified when there was none) were reviewed by an expert panel to identify the location and anatomy most prone to misdiagnosis.
Rare diseases can present diagnostic challenges to clinicians. This article discusses how cognitive biases can impede diagnosis of rare conditions and strategies to improve diagnostic safety in critical care, such as diagnostic timeouts.
Dregmans E, Kaal AG, Meziyerh S, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5:e2218172.
Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing can result in patient harm and costly antibiotic-resistant infections. Health record review of 1,477 patients admitted from the emergency department for suspected bacteremia infection revealed that 11.6% were misdiagnosed at infection site, and 3.1% did not have any infection. Misdiagnosis was not associated with worse short-term clinical outcomes but was associated with potentially inappropriate broad-spectrum antibiotic use.
Gupta K, Szymonifka J, Rivadeneira NA, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;Epub May 28.
Analysis of closed malpractice claims can be used to identify potential safety hazards in a variety of clinical settings. This analysis of closed emergency department malpractice claims indicates that diagnostic errors dominate, and clinical judgment and documentation categories continue to be associated with a higher likelihood of payout. Subcategories and contributing factors are also discussed.
Missed diagnosis of stroke in emergency medicine settings is an important patient safety problem. In this study, researchers interviewed emergency medicine physicians about their perspectives on diagnostic neurology and use of clinical decision support (CDS) tools. Themes emerged related to challenges in diagnosis, neurological complaints, and challenges in diagnostic decision-making emergency medicine, more generally. Participating physicians were enthusiastic about the possibility of involving CDS tools to improve diagnosis for non-specific neurological complaints.
Fawzy A, Wu TD, Wang K, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2022;182:730-738.
Black and brown patients have experienced disproportionately poorer outcomes from COVID-19 infection as compared with white patients. This study found that patients who identified as Asian, Black, or Hispanic may not have received timely diagnosis or treatment due to inaccurately measured pulse oximetry (SpO2). These inaccuracies and discrepancies should be considered in COVID outcome research as well as other respiratory illnesses that rely on SpO2 measurement for treatment.
Politi RE, Mills PD, Zubkoff L, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;Epub Apr 30.
Delays in diagnosis and treatment can lead to poor outcomes for patients. Researchers reviewed root cause analysis (RCA) reports to identify factors contributing to delays in diagnosis and treatment among surgical patients at the Veterans Health Administration. Of the 163 RCAs identified, 73% reflected delays in treatment, 15% reflected delays in diagnosis, and 12% reflected delays in surgery. Policies and processes (e.g., lack of standardized processes, procedures not followed correctly) was the largest contributing factor, followed by communication challenges, and equipment or supply issues.
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.
Morsø L, Birkeland S, Walløe S, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2022;48:271-279.
Patient complaints can provide insights into safety threats and system weaknesses. This study used the healthcare complaints analysis tool (HCAT) to identify and categorize safety problems in emergency care. Most problems arose during examination/diagnosis and frequently resulted in diagnostic errors or errors of omission.
Clinical decision support (CDS) systems are designed to improve diagnosis. Researchers surveyed emergency department physicians about their evaluation of human factors-based CDS systems to improve diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. Although perceived usability was high, use of the CDS tool in the real clinical environment was low; the authors identified several barriers to use, including lack of workflow integration.
Patel SJ, Ipsaro A, Brady PW. Hosp Pediatr. 2022;Epub Feb 28.
Diagnostic uncertainty can arise in complex clinical scenarios. This qualitative study explored how physicians in pediatric emergency and inpatient settings mitigate diagnostic uncertainty. Participants discussed common mitigation strategies, such as employing a “diagnostic pause.” The authors also noted outstanding gaps regarding communicating diagnostic uncertainty to families.
Staal J, Speelman M, Brand R, et al. BMC Med Educ. 2022;22:256.
Diagnostic safety is an essential component of medical training. In this study, medical interns reviewed six clinical cases in which the referral letters from the general practitioner suggested a correct diagnosis, an incorrect diagnosis, or lacked a diagnostic suggestion. Researchers found that diagnostic suggestions in the referral letter did not influence subsequent diagnostic accuracy but did reduce the number of diagnoses considered.
Yale S, Cohen S, Bordini BJ. Crit Care Clin. 2022;38:185-194.
A broad differential diagnosis can limit missed diagnostic opportunities. This article outlines how diagnostic timeouts, which are intended reduce bias during the identification of differential diagnoses, can improve diagnosis and reduce errors.
Lam D, Dominguez F, Leonard J, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;Epub Mar 22.
Trigger tools and incident reporting systems are two commonly used methods for detecting adverse events. This retrospective study compared the performance of an electronic trigger tool plus manual screening versus existing incident reporting systems for identifying probable diagnostic errors among children with unplanned admissions following a prior emergency department (ED) visit. Of the diagnostic errors identified by the trigger tool and substantiated by manual review, less than 10% were identified through existing incident reporting systems.
Root cause analysis is a commonly used tool to identify systems-related factors that contributed to an adverse event. This study assessed a system-based approach, (i.e., collaborative case reviews (CCR) co-led by radiology and an institutional patient safety program) to identify contributing factors and explore the strength of recommended actions in the radiology department at a large academic medical center. Stronger action items, such as standardization of processes, were implemented in 41% of events, and radiology had higher completion rates than other hospital departments.
Marshall TL, Rinke ML, Olson APJ, et al. Pediatrics. 2022;149:e2020045948D.
Reducing diagnostic errors in pediatric care remains a critical area of research and quality improvement. This narrative review presents the incidence and epidemiology of pediatric diagnostic error and strategies for additional innovative research to develop effective interventions to reduce these errors.
Shafer GJ, Singh H, Thomas EJ, et al. J Perinatol. 2022;Epub Mar 4.
Patients in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are at risk for serious patient safety threats. In this retrospective review of 600 consecutive inborn NICU admissions, researchers found that the frequency of diagnostic errors among inborn NICU patients during the first seven days of admission was 6.2%.
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