Preferred language and diagnostic errors in the pediatric emergency department

Diagnosis (Berl). 2023 Oct 6;11(1):49-53. doi: 10.1515/dx-2023-0079. eCollection 2024 Feb 1.


Objectives: To investigate the relationship between language and diagnostic errors (DxE) in the pediatric emergency department (ED).

Methods: Electronic trigger identified ED encounters resulting in unplanned hospital admission that occurred within 10 days of an index visit from January 2018 through February 2022. Manual screening of each triggered encounter identified cases where the index visit diagnosis and hospitalization discharge diagnosis differed, and these were screened in for review using the Revised Safer Dx instrument to determine if a diagnostic error (DxE) occurred. Non-English primary language (NEPL) and English-proficient (EP) groups were established based on caregiver language. The primary outcome was the proportion of DxE each group. Data were analyzed using univariate analysis and multivariable logistic regression to identify independent predictors of DxE.

Results: Electronic trigger identified 3,551 patients, of which 806 (22.7 %) screened in for Safer Dx review. 172 (21.3 %) experienced DxE. The proportion of DxE was similar between EP and NEPL groups (21.5 vs. 21.7 %; p=0.97). Age≥12 years and fewer prior admissions in the preceding 6 months predicted higher odds of DxE. NEPL did not predict higher odds of DxE.

Conclusions: NEPL was not associated with increased odds DxE resulting in unplanned admission.

Keywords: diagnostic error; emergency department; language.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Retrospective Studies