Cooper A, Carson-Stevens A, Cooke M, et al. BMC Emerg Med. 2021;21:139.
Overcrowding in the emergency department (ED) can result in increased frequency of medication errors, in-hospital cardiac arrest, and other patient safety concerns. This study examined diagnostic errors after introducing a new healthcare service model in which emergency departments are co-located with general practitioner (GP) services. Potential priority areas for improvement include appropriate triage, diagnostic test interpretation, and communication between GP and ED services.
Meyer AND, Upadhyay DK, Collins CA, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:120-126.
Efforts to reduce diagnostic error should include educational strategies for improving diagnosis. This article describes the development of a learning health system around diagnostic safety at one large, integrated health care system. The program identified missed opportunities in diagnosis based on clinician reports, patient complaints, and risk management, and used trained facilitators to provide feedback to clinicians about these missed opportunities as learning opportunities. Both facilitators and recipients found the program to be useful and believed it would improve future diagnostic safety.
Much of the evidence about preventable harm in patients with psychiatric illnesses is limited to inpatient psychiatric facilities. This case-control study explores patient-related factors that place patients at an increased risk for patient safety incidents in primary or emergency care. While differences in income, education, and foreign background had some association with preventable harm, researchers found that psychiatric illness nearly doubled the risk of preventable harm among both emergency and primary care patients, with nearly half (46%) of harm attributable to diagnostic errors.
Ischemic stroke, which often presents with non-specific symptoms and requires time-sensitive treatment, can be a source of diagnostic error and misdiagnosis. Using a large medical malpractice claims database, this study found that nearly half of all malpractice claims involving ischemic stroke included diagnostic errors, primarily originating in the ED. The analysis found that breakdowns in the initial patient-provider encounter (e.g., history and physical examination, symptom assessment, and ordering of diagnostic tests) contributed to most malpractice claims.
Abimanyi-Ochom J, Mudiyanselage SB, Catchpool M, et al. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2019;19:174.
There are challenges to identifying and measuring diagnostic errors in healthcare settings. This systematic review found evidence that team meetings, error documentation, and trigger algorithms in various clinical settings may reduce diagnostic errors. The authors also found that while there have been numerous studies on interventions targeting diagnostic errors, few such interventions are being used in clinical settings.
Fitzsimons BT, Fitzsimons LL, Sun LR. Pediatrics. 2019;143:e20183458.
Rare diseases pose diagnostic challenges for physicians. This commentary offers insights from parents of a young child who died due to a delayed stroke diagnosis as well as from the patient's neurologist to raise awareness of childhood stroke and discuss the importance of partnership to heal from loss and advocate for improvement.
Diagnostic error represents an ongoing patient safety challenge and is increasingly recognized as a source of patient harm. This retrospective study examined missed diagnoses and diagnostic error among patients presenting to an ambulatory clinic following an emergency department visit for minor trauma over a 6-month period. Commonly missed diagnoses included ankle, wrist, and foot fractures.
Wood JN, French B, Song L, et al. Pediatrics. 2015;136:232-40.
This study assessed an error of omission—failure to assess children for occult fractures—in several clinically indicated situations, and found that such errors occur in about half of cases. Interventions to prompt specific actions, like checklists, may be useful in this clinical arena.
Chang R-KR, Gurvitz M, Rodriguez S. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162:969-74.
This population-based study revealed that approximately 30 infants per year in California die due to missed diagnoses of congenital heart disease. Screening for specific disorders should be performed at the first postdischarge pediatrician visit.
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