Objectives: To describe diagnostic errors identified among patients discussed at a PICU morbidity and mortality conference in terms of Goldman classification, medical category, severity, preventability, contributing factors, and occurrence in the diagnostic process. Design: Retrospective record review of morbidity and mortality conference agendas, patient charts, and autopsy reports. Setting: Single tertiary referral PICU in Baltimore, MD. Patients: Ninety-six patients discussed at the PICU morbidity and mortality conference from November 2011 to December 2012. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: Eighty-nine of 96 patients (93%) discussed at the PICU morbidity and mortality conference had at least one identified safety event. A total of 377 safety events were identified. Twenty patients (21%) had identified misdiagnoses, comprising 5.3% of all safety events. Out of 20 total diagnostic errors identified, 35% were discovered at autopsy while 55% were reported primarily through the morbidity and mortality conference. Almost all diagnostic errors (95%) could have had an impact on patient survival or safety. Forty percent of errors did not cause actual patient harm, but 25% were severe enough to have potentially contributed to death (40% no harm vs 35% some harm vs 25% possibly contributed to death). Half of the diagnostic errors (50%) were rated as preventable. There were slightly more system-related factors (40%) solely contributing to diagnostic errors compared with cognitive factors (20%); however, 35% had both system and cognitive factors playing a role. Most errors involved vascular (35%) followed by neurologic (30%) events. Conclusions: Diagnostic errors in the PICU are not uncommon and potentially cause patient harm. Most appear to be preventable by targeting both cognitive-and system-related contributing factors. Prospective studies are needed to further determine how and why diagnostic errors occur in the PICU and what interventions would likely be effective for prevention.
- diagnostic errors
- patient safety
- pediatric intensive care unit
- quality improvement
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine