Opportunities for Diagnostic Improvement Among Pediatric Hospital Readmissions

Hosp Pediatr. 2023 Jul 1;13(7):563-571. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2023-007157.


Objectives: Diagnostic errors, termed "missed opportunities for improving diagnosis" (MOIDs), are known sources of harm in children but have not been well characterized in pediatric hospital medicine. Our objectives were to systematically identify and describe MOIDs among general pediatric patients who experienced hospital readmission, outline improvement opportunities, and explore factors associated with increased risk of MOID.

Patients and methods: Our retrospective cohort study included unplanned readmissions within 15 days of discharge from a freestanding children's hospital (October 2018-September 2020). Health records from index admissions and readmissions were independently reviewed and discussed by practicing inpatient physicians to identify MOIDs using an established instrument, SaferDx. MOIDs were evaluated using a diagnostic-specific tool to identify improvement opportunities within the diagnostic process.

Results: MOIDs were identified in 22 (6.3%) of 348 readmissions. Opportunities for improvement included: delay in considering the correct diagnosis (n = 11, 50%) and failure to order needed test(s) (n = 10, 45%). Patients with MOIDs were older (median age: 3.8 [interquartile range 1.5-11.2] vs 1.0 [0.3-4.9] years) than patients without MOIDs but similar in sex, primary language, race, ethnicity, and insurance type. We did not identify conditions associated with higher risk of MOID. Lower respiratory tract infections accounted for 26% of admission diagnoses but only 1 (4.5%) case of MOID.

Conclusions: Standardized review of pediatric readmissions identified MOIDs and opportunities for improvement within the diagnostic process, particularly in clinician decision-making. We identified conditions with low incidence of MOID. Further work is needed to better understand pediatric populations at highest risk for MOID.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Inpatients
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Readmission*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time