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Missed Diagnosis of Cancer in Primary Care: Insights From Malpractice Data

  • July 23, 2019

Data from CRICO Strategies’ Comparative Benchmarking Service (CBS) database on closed malpractice claims involving diagnostic errors were used to identify the key features of missed cancer diagnoses in primary care settings.


Co-authored by CRICO’s VP of Advanced Data Analytics and Coding, Jonathan Einbinder, MD, this study aimed to find some of the key aspects of missed cancer diagnoses in an ambulatory setting. By analyzing over 2155 closed malpractice claims from outpatient general medicine, the authors were able to determine that missed cancer diagnoses accounted for 46% of all diagnostic error claims. Most of these missed diagnoses were from lung, colorectal, prostate, or breast cancer.

Further contributing factors were identified as well, the most common being errors in clinical judgment such as a delayed referral or failure to order a test. The findings suggest that more strenuous closed-loop systems should be put in place to prevent diagnostic error.

Citation for the Full-text Article

Aaronson E, Quinn G, Wong C, et al. Missed diagnosis of cancer in primary care: Insights from malpractice claims data. Journal of Healthcare Risk Management. 2019 July 23. doi:10.1002/jhrm.21385.