Nursing

Web site spotlight: More attention being paid to diagnosis errors

Nurse Leader Insider, December 21, 2009

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When a patient visits his or her doctor, a certain level of trust is inherent in the interaction. Just as a consumer might expect an auto mechanic to diagnose the cause of an engine that stalls, or a stockbroker to surmise why certain stocks have been outperforming others, a patient trusts his or her physician to evaluate any symptoms and formulate a diagnosis that reflects the years of education and training the physician has received.

The human body is far more complex than a car, however, and arguably more complex than the stock market. Additionally, the many medical factors and thinking and systemic processes that might lead a physician to a particular diagnosis are complicated in their own right. Because of this, diagnosis errors are gaining more attention from the medical field, the media, and patients.

When 310 physicians at 22 U.S. healthcare facilities were asked to anonymously confess the diagnostic errors they made or witnessed, the two most frequently listed conditions involved pulmonary embolism and adverse drug reactions, including overdoses and poisoning. Lung cancer diagnostic mistakes ranked a close third, followed by colorectal cancer, acute coronary syndrome, breast cancer, and stroke.

Editor’s note: To read the rest of this article, visit “More attention being paid to diagnosis errors at www.StrategiesForNurseManagers.com.

Do you need continuing education (CE) credits? Check out this month’s CE article to learn about stroke education for patient care technicians or visit our archives and view a compilation of CE articles (marked with an asterisk).



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