Causes of errors in the electrocardiographic diagnosis of atrial fibrillation by physicians.
Approach to Improving Safety
Setting of Care
Prior research on diagnostic errors related to inaccurate interpretation of electrocardiograms (ECGs) has generally focused on identification of acute myocardial infarction. In this cohort study, cardiologists re-reviewed ECGs to identify the rate of false-positive and false-negative diagnoses of atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia. Both false-positive and false-negative diagnoses were relatively common, especially in patients with ventricular pacemakers. The authors identified several common errors in interpretation, both by human readers and the computerized interpretation. A prior study also found that the computerized ECG interpretation frequently did not identify the correct cardiac rhythm.