Discrepancy between emergency department admission diagnosis and hospital discharge diagnosis and its impact on length of stay, up-triage to the intensive care unit, and mortality

Diagnosis (Berl). 2021 Jul 5;9(1):107-114. doi: 10.1515/dx-2021-0001.


Objectives: Published discrepancy rates between emergency department (ED) and hospital discharge (HD) diagnoses vary widely (from 6.5 to 75.6%). The goal of this study was to determine the extent of diagnostic discrepancy and its impact on length of hospital stay (LOS), up-triage to the intensive care unit (ICU) and in-hospital mortality.

Methods: A retrospective chart review of adult patients admitted from the ED to a hospitalist service at a tertiary hospital was performed. The ED and HD diagnoses were compared and classified as concordant, discordant, or symptom diagnoses according to predefined criteria. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine the associations of diagnostic discordance with in-hospital mortality and up-triage to the ICU. A linear regression model was used for the length of stay.

Results: Of the 636 patients whose records were reviewed, 418 (217 [51.9%] women, with a mean age of 64.1 years) were included. Overall, 318 patients (76%) had concordant diagnoses, while 91 (21.77%) had discordant diagnoses. Only 9 patients (2.15%) had symptom diagnoses. A discordant diagnosis was associated with increased mortality (OR: 3.64; 95% CI: 1.026-12.91; p=0.045) and up-triage to the ICU (OR: 5.51; 95% CI: 2.43-12.5; p<0.001). The median LOS was significantly greater for patients with discordant diagnoses (7 days) than for those with concordant diagnoses (4.7 days) (p=0.004). Symptom diagnosis did not affect the mortality or ICU up-triage.

Conclusions: One in five hospitalized patients had discordant HD and admission diagnoses. This diagnostic discrepancy was associated with significant impacts on patient morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: concordant diagnoses; diagnostic discrepancy; diagnostic errors; discordant diagnoses; emergency department diagnosis; hospital diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Triage*