This study aimed to explore clinicians’ perceptions of the occurrence of and factors associated with diagnostic errors in patients evaluated during a rapid response team (RRT) activation or unplanned admission to the intensive care unit (ICU).
A multicenter prospective survey study was conducted among multiprofessional clinicians involved in the care of patients with RRT activations and/or unplanned ICU admissions (UIAs) at 2 academic hospitals and 1 community-based hospital between April 2019 and March 2020. A study investigator screened eligible patients every day. Within 24 hours of the event, a research coordinator administered the survey to clinicians, who were asked the following: whether diagnostic errors contributed to the reason for RRT/UIA, whether any new diagnosis was made after RRT/UIA, if there were any failures to communicate the diagnosis, and if involvement of specialists earlier would have benefited that patient. Patient clinical data were extracted from the electronic health record.
A total of 1815 patients experienced RRT activations, and 1024 patients experienced UIA. Clinicians reported that 18.2% (95/522) of patients experienced diagnostic errors, 8.0% (42/522) experienced a failure of communication, and 16.7% (87/522) may have benefitted from earlier involvement of specialists. Compared with academic settings, clinicians in the community hospital were less likely to report diagnostic errors (7.0% versus 22.8%, P = 0.002).
Clinicians report a high rate of diagnostic errors in patients they evaluate during RRT or UIAs.