19. Prevalence of diagnostic discordance: A retrospective analysis of autopsy findings and clinical diagnoses

S. Suryavanshi, J. D. Gomez, A. Mulla, J. Kalra


The prevalence of medical error in health care systems has compromised the quality of health care delivery. The research on medical errors in hospitalized population has consistently revealed high rates of misdiagnosis. Autopsy examination has been an established tool for quality assurance programs. The objective of this study was to determine the discrepancy rates between clinical and autopsy findings in patients admitted to various hospitals (Royal University hospital, RUH; St. Paul’s hospital, SPH; Saskatoon city hospital, SCH) of Saskatoon Health Region. A retrospective record review of the medical and autopsy charts was carried out for all the deceased adult in-patients admitted during the years 2002, 2003, and 2004. All autopsies were carried out either in the morgue of RUH or at SPH hospital. A total of 3416 in-patient deaths were registered during the study period. Autopsies were performed on 206 of the deceased resulting in an autopsy rate of 6%. In accordance with selection criteria, 158 cases were included for this study. The mean age of subjects was 66.6 ± 15.2 years with a range of 16 – 94 years. The total concordance rate in this study between clinical and autopsy diagnoses was 75.3%. The discordance rate was 20.9% and in 3.8% of the study population a conclusive clinical or autopsy diagnoses was not finalized. The concordance and discordance rate between clinical diagnoses and autopsy findings when compared between the patients of two hospitals (RUH and SPH) were not significantly different. These results suggest that despite the technical advances in medical and diagnostic modalities, there still persists a significant discordance in clinical and autopsy diagnoses. Our study confirms the wide prevalence of diagnostic discrepancies in the health care system and emphasizes the value of autopsy as an effective quality improvement and educational tool with a strong impact on quality management.
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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25011/cim.v30i4.2779


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