Fawzy A, Wu TD, Wang K, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2022;Epub May 31.
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%.
Huang C, Barwise A, Soleimani J, et al. J Patient Saf. 2022;18:e454-e462.
Identifying and reducing diagnostic errors remains a critical patient safety concern. This prospective study asked clinicians if they perceived that a diagnostic error played a part in rapid response team activations or unplanned admissions to the intensive care unit. Clinicians reported that 18% of acute care patients experienced diagnostic errors.
Wyner D, Wyner F, Brumbaugh D, et al. Pediatrics. 2021;148:e2021053091.
The dismissal of parental concerns is a known contributor to medical errors in children. This story illustrates how poor communication, lack of respect, and anchoring bias contributed to failure in the care of a boy. The authors share actions being taken by the hospital involved in the tragedy to partner with the family to improve diagnosis practices throughout their organization.
Lamoureux C, Hanna TN, Sprecher D, et al. Emerg Radiol. 2021;28:1135-1141.
Teleradiology - general radiologists who support several hospitals and read films remotely – can increase off-hours coverage but this approach can result in increased errors. This retrospective review examined errors and discrepancies between teleradiology findings and image interpretation from local facility radiologists. Most errors involved CT scans; the most common errors included missed fractures or dislocations and bleeding.
Singh H, Connor DM, Dhaliwal G. BMJ. 2022;376:e068044.
System and clinician behaviors affect the reliability of the diagnostic process. This article shares five strategies to enhance individual clinician diagnostic practices which include seeking feedback, building learning into daily work, considering bias, enabling critical thinking, and teaming.
Coen M, Sader J, Junod-Perron N, et al. Intern Emerg Med. 2022;17:979-988.
The uncertainty and pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic can introduce cognitive biases leading to diagnostic errors. Researchers asked primary care providers taking care of COVID-19 adult patients to describe cases when their clinical reasoning was “disrupted” due to the pandemic. The most common cognitive biases were anchoring bias, confirmation bias, availability bias, and cognitive dissonance.
Bastakoti M, Muhailan M, Nassar A, et al. Diagnosis. 2022;9:107-114.
Misdiagnosis in the emergency department (ED) can result in increased morbidity and mortality. This retrospective chart review of patients admitted from the ED to hospital explored the concordance of ED admission and hospital discharge diagnoses. Results show 21.77% of patients had discordant diagnoses; discordant diagnosis was associated with increased length of stay, mortality, and up-triage to ICU.
Diagnostic errors are a significant patient safety issue. This systematic review describes the scope of existing research regarding diagnostic errors in pediatric patients. The authors concluded that there are limited data describing diagnostic errors in pediatric hospital settings. Findings suggest that the prevalence of diagnostic error in pediatric hospitals varied and largely depended on the measurement technique and hospital setting.
Ranji SR, Thomas EJ. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;31:255-258.
Diagnostic safety interventions have been empirically evaluated but real-world implementation challenges persist. This commentary discusses the importance of incorporating contextual factors (e.g., social, cultural) facing complex healthcare systems into the design of diagnostic safety interventions. The authors provide recommendations for designing studies to improve diagnosis that take contextual factors into consideration.
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