8 COVID-19-related diagnostic errors to know

The COVID-19 pandemic could increase the risk of diagnostic errors due to staffing shortages, chaotic work environments and high levels of clinician stress and fatigue, two healthcare quality experts wrote in an article published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. 

The article's authors are:

  • Tejal Gandhi, MD, chief safety and transformation officer at Press Ganey
  • Hardeep Singh, MD, chief of health policy, quality and informatics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston.

Drs. Gandhi and Singh identified eight diagnostic errors that may occur in the COVID-19 era based on emerging research and discussions with experts worldwide. The errors are defined below.

1. Classic: Missed or delayed COVID-19 diagnosis in patients with respiratory symptoms.

2. Anomalous: Missed or delayed COVID-19 diagnosis in patients who do not have respiratory symptoms.

3. Anchor: Missed or delayed diagnosis of a different condition because clinicians assume the patient has COVID-19.  

4. Secondary: Missed or delayed diagnosis of a secondary condition in a patient being treated for COVID-19.

5. Acute collateral: Delayed diagnosis of an acute condition because patients are not seeking care due to fear of contracting COVID-19 in a hospital or emergency department.

6. Chronic collateral: Delayed diagnosis of ambulatory conditions due to canceled appointments or elective procedures.

7. Strain: Missed or delayed diagnosis of a different condition because hospitals are overwhelmed, potentially limiting the time and attention clinicians spend on non-COVID-19 patients.

8. Unintended: Missed or delayed diagnosis because clinicians are using telemedicine more instead of interacting with patients in person.

To view the full article, click here.


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