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CBS Report: Where Failures Occur in the Diagnostic Process

  • February 12, 2015

New report helps clinicians identify allegations of diagnostic error which lead to 20 % of all medical malpractice claims and lawsuits.


CAMBRIDGE, MA, February 12, 2015 – In most cases, the missed diagnosis is not exotic, and the details are not considered newsworthy. Within health care, however, diagnosis-related events cannot be relegated to the back page. In CRICO Strategies 2014 Annual Benchmarking Report: Malpractice Risks in the Diagnostic Process, analysis of more than 4,700 cases, filed from 2008–2012, alleged malpractice that put patients at risk of a missed or significantly delayed diagnosis. While the majority (58%) of these cases highlight assessment failures, the analysis explores the entire diagnostic process to help identify where breakdowns most commonly occur.

This study, mined from CRICO Strategies Comparative Benchmarking System (CBS), highlights 12 steps in the diagnostic process of care where the problems—and the potential remedies—are relatively similar. The CBS taxonomy enables data analyses that help identify where breakdowns most commonly occur. The three broad phases examined were:

  • initial diagnostic assessment
  • testing and results processing, and
  • follow up and coordination

Talking about diagnostic errors, Mark E. Reynolds, president of CRICO said, “Relatively scant attention has been paid to errors during the diagnostic process which, according to the data from the Comparative Benchmarking System (CBS) are more common than obstetrical errors, and more costly than surgical cases.” The importance of this report, according to Reynolds, is that the “analysis opens our eyes to where and when diagnosis-related errors most commonly occur, and furthers discussion about the changes necessary to prevent them.”

CRICO Strategies CBS database currently holds more than 320,000 medical malpractice cases from more than 400 hospitals and provides a unique insight into what goes wrong, and why. Participating organizations contribute their claims to the ever-growing pool of data and are awarded with analysis that offers insight to specific risk vulnerabilities. Armed with this data, health care providers and leaders have a clear line of sight on how to change specific clinical systems or clinician behaviors and reduce those dominant risks. Says Heather Riah, AVP of CRICO Strategies, “Organizations striving to understand these issues need to dig deeper into what triggers their diagnosis-related claims and discern how other organizations have responded to similar vulnerabilities.”

Malpractice Risks in the Diagnostic Process is Annual Benchmark Reports as a PDF or hard copy. For more information about the origin of the data, CBS membership, and additional Strategies services and products, contact: Gretchen Ruoff, MPH, CPHRM 617.679.1312 or Gretchen Ruoff.