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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.
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%.
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.  
Mahajan P, Basu T, Pai C-W, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3:e200612.
Using data from a large commercial insurance claims database, this cohort study sought to identify factors associated with potentially missed appendicitis by comparing patients with a potentially missed diagnosis versus patients diagnosed with appendicitis on the same day in the emergency department. The researchers estimated the frequency of missed appendicitis was 6% among adults and 4.4% among children. Patients presenting with abdominal pain and constipation were more likely to have a missed diagnosis of appendicitis than patients presenting with isolated abdominal pain or abdominal pain with nausea and/or vomiting. Stratified analyses based on undifferentiated symptoms found that women and patients with comorbidities were more likely to have missed appendicitis.

Halamek LP, ed. Semin Perinatol. 2019;43(8):151172-151182.

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a complex environment that serves a vulnerable population at increased risk for harm should errors occur. This special issue draws from a multidisciplinary set of authors to explore patient safety issues arising in the NICU. Included in the issue are articles examining topic such as video assessment, diagnostic error, and human factors engineering in the NICU.
One day after reading only the first line of a final ultrasound result (which stated that the patient had a thrombosis), an intern reported to the ICU team that the patient had a DVT. Because she had postoperative bleeding, the team elected to place an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter rather than administer anticoagulants to prevent a pulmonary embolism (PE). The next week, a new ICU team discussed the care plan and questioned the IVC filter.
Emergency medical service (EMS) providers obtained an electrocardiogram (ECG) in a woman who had developed severe chest pressure at home. The ECG revealed an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Unfortunately, the ECG failed to transmit to the emergency department (ED) while EMS was en route, so a "Code STEMI" was not activated. Unaware of the original ECG results, ED clinicians obtained a repeat ECG that did not demonstrate the earlier ST segment elevations, and the patient was admitted to the telemetry unit for monitoring overnight.

Todd DW, Bennett JD, eds. Oral Maxillofac Surg Clin North Am. 2017;29:121-244.

Articles in this special issue provide insights into how human error can affect the safety of oral and maxillofacial surgery, a primarily ambulatory environment. The authors cover topics such as simulation training, wrong-site surgery, and the safety of office-based anesthesia.
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.
An older man with a history of heavy smoking and chest pain underwent a chest CT in the emergency department that showed no evidence of an aortic dissection on the preliminary read. Although the patient followed up soon thereafter with a new primary care physician, it was not discovered until several months later that a suspicious lung nodule had been spotted on the initial CT.
Amaral ACK-B, Barros BS, Barros CCPP, et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2014;189:1395-401.
This study revealed that cross-coverage, in which physicians care for patients they have learned about through handoffs, was associated with lower mortality in the intensive care unit. This finding counters persisting concerns about harm related to discontinuity of care. The authors suggest that an independent assessment by a second physician may mitigate cognitive errors.
Lin Y-K, Lin C-J, Chan H-M, et al. Injury. 2014;45:83-7.
Full-time trauma surgeons had a lower incidence of diagnostic errors (defined as the incidence of missed injuries in severely injured patients) compared with surgeons who primarily practiced in other specialties, according to this retrospective analysis of patients admitted to a Taiwanese surgical intensive care unit.
Emergency medicine has evolved from a location, with variably trained and experienced providers ("the ER"), to a discipline with a well-defined knowledge base and skill set that focus on the diagnosis and care of undifferentiated acute problems.(1) The importance of rapid diagnosis and treatment of serious conditions (e.g., myocardial infarction, stroke, trauma, and sepsis) has made timeliness not simply a determinant of patient satisfaction but also a significant safety and quality concern—delays in care can be deadly.(2) Emergency physicians (EPs) have identified delays caused by crowding fr
Smits M, Groenewegen PP, Timmermans DRM, et al. BMC Emerg Med. 2009;9:16.
Emergency department (ED) patients are particularly vulnerable to adverse events, and a prior study of closed malpractice claims implicated systems factors such as poor teamwork in adverse patient outcomes. This study used root cause analysis of incident reports to identify the types and causes of errors and unanticipated events in the ED. Incidents included poor communication and teamwork, particularly with other departments, but medication errors and diagnostic errors were also noted. The authors recommend that organizations integrate the ED into hospital-wide safety improvement efforts.
Interrupted during a telephone handoff, an ED physician, despite limited information, must treat a patient in respiratory arrest. The patient is stabilized and transferred to the ICU with a presumed diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia and septic shock. Later, ICU physicians obtain further history that leads to the correct diagnosis: pulmonary embolism.