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Delayed Diagnosis in Pulmonary Embolism: Frequency, Patient Characteristics, and Outcome

Authors
  • Mansella, Gregory
  • Keil, Christoph
  • Nickel, Christian H.
  • Eken, Ceylan
  • Wirth, Christian
  • Tzankov, Alexandar
  • Peterson, Caspar Joyce
  • Aujesky, Drahomir
  • Bingisser, Roland
Type
Published Article
Journal
Respiration
Publisher
S. Karger AG
Publication Date
Jul 21, 2020
Volume
99
Issue
7
Pages
589–597
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1159/000508396
PMID: 32694258
Source
Karger
Keywords
License
Green
External links

Abstract

Background: The incidence and the outcomes of pulmonary embolism (PE) missed during emergency department (ED) workup are largely unknown. Objectives: To describe the frequency, demographics, and outcomes of patients with delayed diagnosis of PE. Methods: We retrospectively compared patients diagnosed with PE during ED workup (early diagnosis) with patients diagnosed with PE thereafter (delayed diagnosis). Electronic health records (EHR) of 123,560 consecutive patients who attended a tertiary hospital ED were screened. Data were matched with radiology and pathology results from the EHR. Results: Of 1,119 patients presenting to the ED with early workup for PE, PE was diagnosed in 182 patients (80.5%) as early diagnosis. Delayed diagnosis was established in 44 cases (19.5%) using radiology and/or autopsy data. Median age of patients with early diagnosis was significantly lower as compared to delayed diagnosis (67 vs. 77.5 years). Main symptoms were dyspnea (109 patients [59.9%] in early, 20 patients [45.5%] in delayed diagnosis), chest pain (90 patients [49.5%] in early, 8 patients [18.2%] in delayed diagnosis), and nonspecific complaints (16 patients [8.8%] in early, 13 patients [29.5%] in delayed diagnosis). In-hospital mortality was 1.6% in early diagnosis and 43.2% in delayed diagnosis. Conclusions: Delayed diagnosis of PE carries a worse prognosis than early diagnosis. This discrepancy may arise from either delayed therapy, confounding variables (e.g., older age), or both. Possible reasons for delayed diagnoses are nonspecific presentations and symptoms overlapping with preexisting conditions.

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