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Pulmonary Embolism Leads Diagnostic Errors

MANAGED CARE December 2009. © MediMedia USA
News and Commentary

Pulmonary Embolism Leads Diagnostic Errors

MANAGED CARE December 2009. ©MediMedia USA

If you think about it, there are many places along the health care continuum in which diagnostic errors can occur.

A recent study in Archives of Internal Medicine identifies the failure to order tests, report results to patients, or follow up abnormal test findings as the leading types of diagnostic errors. The questionnaire was completed anonymously by nearly 300 primary care and specialist physicians, who reported 583 cases of diagnostic error.

According to the study, tests were not performed because clinicians often failed to consider the diagnosis, leading to delays in ordering the test or making the correct diagnosis.

The most common missed or delayed diagnoses include pulmonary embolism, drug reaction or overdose, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and acute coronary syndrome — including heart attack, breast cancer, and stroke.