The AHRQ PSNet Collection comprises an extensive selection of resources relevant to the patient safety community. These resources come in a variety of formats, including literature, research, tools, and Web sites. Resources are identified using the National Library of Medicine’s Medline database, various news and content aggregators, and the expertise of the AHRQ PSNet editorial and technical teams.
Medical errors should be examined in the context of system failure to generate lasting opportunities for learning and improvement. This commentary discusses the AHRQ 2022 report entitled Diagnostic Errors in the Emergency Department: a Systematic Review and suggests a focus on care delivery processes over individuals, definitions, error rate review, and system design as noteworthy approaches to error reduction.
Reyes AM, Royan R, Feinglass J, et al. JAMA Surg. 2023;Epub Jan 18.
Delays in diagnosis and treatment can lead to poor outcomes. In this population-based retrospective longitudinal study using inpatient and emergency department discharge data from four states, researchers found that non-Hispanic Black patients were at higher risk for delayed diagnosis of appendicitis compared to White patients. This increased risk for delayed diagnosis translated into higher risks for postoperative 30-day readmission rates. The researchers found that this risk was mitigated when Black patients received care at hospitals serving a more diverse patient population.
Hailu EM, Maddali SR, Snowden JM, et al. Health Place. 2022;78:102923.
Racial and ethnic health disparities are receiving increased attention, and yet structural racism continues to negatively impact communities of color. This review identified only six papers studying the impact of structural racism on severe maternal morbidity (SMM). Despite heterogeneity in measures and outcomes, the studies all demonstrated a link between structural racism and SMM; additional research is required.
Tougas C, Brimmo O. Pediatr Ann. 2022;51:e357-e363.
Diagnostic errors involving pediatric musculoskeletal radiographs can lead to adverse patient safety outcomes. This article discusses contributing factors to missed or delayed diagnosis of pediatric fractures and strategies to improve diagnosis.
Sibbald M, Abdulla B, Keuhl A, et al. JMIR Hum Factors. 2022;9:e39234.
Electronic differential diagnostic support (EDS) are decision aids that suggest one or more differential diagnoses based on clinical data entered by the clinician. The generated list may prompt the clinician to consider additional diagnoses. This study simulated the use of one EDS, Isabel, in the emergency department to identify barriers and supports to its effectiveness. Four themes emerged. Notably, some physicians thought the EDS-generated differentials could reduce bias while others suggested it could introduce bias.
Michelson KA, McGarghan FLE, Patterson EE, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;Epub Sep 30.
Adverse events in pediatric emergency departments (ED) are rare, but largely preventable. This study examined characteristics and risk factors of patients with delayed diagnosis (i.e., presented to the ED within one week of a previous visit) and patients without delayed diagnosis of one of 7 serious medical conditions. Patients who were Hispanic or non-Hispanic Black, had public or other insurance, or non-English speaking were associated with delayed diagnosis.
Arnaoutakis GJ, Ogami T, Aranda‐Michel E, et al. J Am Heart Assoc. 2022;11:e025026.
Missed diagnosis of aortic emergencies can result in patient death, therefore patients with presumed aortic syndromes may be transferred to aortic referral centers. Because interhospital transfers present their own risks, these researchers evaluated emergency transfers of patients who did not ultimately have a diagnosis of acute aortic dissection, intramural hematoma, penetrating aortic ulcer, thoracic aortic aneurysm, or aortic pseudoaneurysm. Approximately 11% of emergency transfers were misdiagnosed, secondary to imaging misinterpretation.
Tsilimingras D, Natarajan G, Bajaj M, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:462-469.
Post-discharge events, such as medication errors, can occur among pediatric patients discharged from inpatient settings to home. This prospective cohort, including infants discharged from one level 4 NICU between February 2017 and July 2019, identified a high risk for post-discharge adverse events, (including procedural complications and adverse drug events) and subsequent emergency department visits or hospital readmissions. Nearly half of these events were due to management, therapeutic, or diagnostic errors and could have been prevented.
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.
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.
Plint AC, Newton AS, Stang A, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;31:806-817.
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.
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;48:492-496.
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 in emergency medicine, more generally. Participating physicians were enthusiastic about the possibility of involving CDS tools to improve diagnosis for non-specific neurological complaints.
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.
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.
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.
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