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.
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.
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%.
Vaghani V, Wei L, Mushtaq U, et al. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2021;28:2202-2211.
Based on the Safer Dx and SPADE frameworks, researchers applied a symptom-disease pair-based electronic trigger (e-trigger) to identify patients hospitalized for stroke who had been previously discharged from the emergency department with a diagnosis of headache or dizziness in the preceding 30 days. Analyses show that the e-trigger identified missed diagnoses of stroke with a modest positive predictive value.
Hensgens RL, El Moumni M, IJpma FFA, et al. Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg. 2020;46:1367-1374.
Missed injuries and delayed diagnoses are an ongoing problem in trauma care. This cohort study conducted at a large trauma center found that inter-hospital transfer of severely injured patients increases the risk of delayed detection of injuries. For half of these patients, the new diagnoses led to a change in treatment course. These findings highlight the importance of clinician vigilance when assessing trauma patients.
Bhat A, Mahajan V, Wolfe N. J Clin Neurosci. 2021;85:27-35.
Misdiagnosis, variation in treatment of stroke and gaps in secondary prevention in young patients can result in adverse outcomes. This article discusses the possible causes of implicit bias in stroke care in this population, the effects of bias on patient outcomes, and interventions to circumvent implicit bias.
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.
Wright B, Faulkner N, Bragge P, et al. Diagnosis (Berl). 2019;6:325-334.
The hectic pace of emergency care detracts from reliability. This review examined the literature on evidence, practice, and patient perspectives regarding diagnostic error in the emergency room. A WebM&M commentary discussed an incident involving a diagnostic delay in the emergency department.
Bergl PA, Nanchal RS, Singh H. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2018;15:903-907.
Elements of critical care can influence the reliability of diagnosis, teamwork, and care delivery. This commentary recommends areas for research to reduce diagnostic error in the intensive care unit. The authors highlight the need for intensivist involvement to define distinct roles and actions in their specialty for diagnostic improvement.
Davalos MC, Samuels K, Meyer AND, et al. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2017;18:265-271.
Despite increased focus on improving diagnosis as a major patient safety issue, measuring and defining diagnostic error remains challenging. A prior study showed that application of the Safer Dx Instrument—a structured tool to help identify diagnostic errors in the primary care setting—enabled improved detection of diagnostic errors compared to chart review alone. In this study, researchers tested the ability of the instrument to identify diagnostic errors in high-risk patients admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit. Out of 214 high-risk patient charts, 26 were found to contain a diagnostic error. Two clinicians independently reviewed the records using the tool and reviewer agreement was 93.6%, suggesting that the Safer Dx Instrument may be useful in additional clinical settings. An Annual Perspective discussed the challenges associated with diagnostic error.
Jones A, Johnstone M-J. Aust Crit Care. 2017;30:219-223.
This qualitative study combined the narratives of various critical care nurses into four representative scenarios demonstrating failure to recognize clinically deteriorating patients. The authors describe inattentional blindness, a concept in which individuals in high-complexity environments can miss an important event because of competing attentional tasks, as a key factor in these failure-to-rescue events.
Zachariasse JM, Kuiper JW, de Hoog M, et al. J Pediatr. 2016;177:232-237.e1.
Emergency department triage systems are designed to prioritize patients based on the level of illness. Inappropriate triage can lead to delays in care and adverse events. In Europe, the Manchester Triage System is a widely used algorithm that classifies patients based on five levels of urgency with a corresponding maximum waiting time. This study sought to assess the effectiveness of the Manchester Triage System in children requiring admission to the intensive care unit (ICU). Analyzing more than 50,000 consecutive emergency department visits of children younger than 16, the authors determined that almost one third of children admitted to the ICU were undertriaged. Risk factors identified for undertriage included age younger than 3 months, type of medical presenting problem, presence of underlying chronic conditions, referral by a specialist or emergency medical services, and arrival during the evening or at night. These findings suggest that the Manchester Triage System inappropriately triages a significant proportion of children requiring ICU admission and that modifications should be made to improve safety in pediatric emergency care. A previous WebM&M commentary discussed the challenges of triage in the emergency department.
Okafor N, Payne VL, Chathampally Y, et al. Emerg Med J. 2016;33:245-252.
Diagnostic errors are an understudied patient safety problem. The emergency department is a particularly challenging environment for diagnosis, due to its fast pace, frequent interruptions, and multiple simultaneous diagnostic trajectories. This study examined voluntary incident reports for diagnostic errors and found that common conditions such as sepsis and acute coronary syndromes were among the most frequently reported as missed or delayed. As with prior studies, the majority of errors involved multiple factors. Cognitive errors and system factors (e.g., inefficient processes and high workload) were prevalent. These results demonstrate the need to address diagnostic safety with both cognitive training interventions and systems approaches.
Jones SL, Ashton CM, Kiehne L, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2015;41:483-91.
A protocolized early warning system to improve sepsis recognition and management was associated with a decrease in sepsis-related inpatient mortality. The protocol emphasized early recognition by nurses and escalation of care by a nurse practitioner when indicated. An AHRQ WebM&M commentary describes common errors in the early management of sepsis.
Vioque SM, Kim PK, McMaster J, et al. Am J Surg. 2014;208:187-194.
Approximately 1 in 13 deaths of patients with major trauma were considered preventable or potentially preventable in this retrospective review from an urban trauma center. Diagnostic errors during the initial trauma assessment were a frequent contributor to preventable harm.
Newman-Toker DE, Moy E, Valente E, et al. Diagnosis (Berl). 2014;1:155-166.
This observational study identified patients who visited the emergency department within 30 days prior to a stroke diagnosis. Nearly 13% of patients had a potential missed diagnosis, and more than 1% had a probable missed diagnosis of stroke. This study illustrates a novel approach to characterizing the incidence of missed diagnosis, an important and understudied patient safety problem.
Discussing communication weaknesses in surgery, this commentary examines how team-based decision making can contribute to safer and more patient-centered care in this setting, particularly for complex cases. The authors advocate for an enhanced safety culture to support better communication.
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