Diagnostic Errors More Likely when Dealing with Disruptive Patients

March 23, 2016 | Risk Management News

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​Family physicians may be more likely to make diagnostic errors when dealing with disruptive patients, according to a Dutch study published on March 14, 2016, in BMJ Quality & Safety. The study of fictional scenarios found that resident physicians in the Netherlands were 42% more likely to make diagnostic errors when treating disruptive patients with complex cases, and 6% more likely to make an error even when dealing with disruptive patients that have simpler conditions, when compared with treating a non-disruptive patient. The authors said disruptive patients include care avoiders; demanding or argumentative individuals; those who do not trust doctors; and individuals with personality disorders. Doctors report dealing with such patients, the authors said, in approximately 15% of the outpatient population. Participants in the study received a booklet containing three scenarios, each presented with both a difficult and a neutral patient.

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