How often is a diagnosis missed in the emergency department? Elizabeth Tracey reports


When you go to an emergency department are you concerned that your health issue won’t be properly diagnosed? A study by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality led by David Newman-Toker at Johns Hopkins has found the actual rate of so called diagnostic errors is 5.7 percent, about the same as in other healthcare settings.

Newman-Toker:  The problem of diagnostic errors isn’t unique to the emergency department. It’s something that happens everywhere. The emergency department happens to be a little bit of a high risk place simply because patients are sicker and the context of care is that there are a lot of unknowns, a lot of uncertainty around what’s causing somebody’s symptoms, so it’s a tough place to practice clinically. Diagnostic errors do happen. What the report that we worked on recently suggests is that those errors are much more likely to happen when your symptoms are a little bit off the beaten path.  :30

Newman-Toker says errors were most often seen when someone was thought to be too young or too old to have a certain issue. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.