Organisational determinants and consequences of diagnostic discrepancy in two large patient groups in the emergency departments: a national study of consecutive episodes between 2008 and 2016

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review



  • Line Stjernholm Tipsmark, DESIGN EM – Research Network for Organizational Design and Emergency Medicine, DEFACTUM
  • ,
  • Børge Obel
  • Tommy Andersson
  • ,
  • Rikke Søgaard, University of Southern Denmark

BACKGROUND: Diagnostic discrepancy (DD) is a common phenomenon in healthcare, but little is known about its organisational determinants and consequences. Thus, the aim of the study was to evaluate this among selected emergency department (ED) patients.

METHOD: We conducted an observational study including all consecutive ED patients (hip fracture or erysipelas) in the Danish healthcare sector admitted between 2008 and 2016. DD was defined as a discrepancy between discharge and admission diagnoses. Episode and department statistics were retrieved from Danish registers. We conducted a survey among all 21 Danish EDs to gather information about organisational determinants. To estimate the results while adjusting for episode- and department-level heterogeneity, we used mixed effect models of ED organisational determinants and 30-day readmission, 30-day mortality and episode costs (2018-DKK) of DDs.

RESULTS: DD was observed in 2308 (3.3%) of 69,928 hip fracture episodes and 3206 (8.5%) of 37,558 erysipelas episodes. The main organisational determinant of DD was senior physicians (nonspecific medical specialty) being employed at the ED (hip fracture: odds ratio (OR) 2.74, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.15-3.51; erysipelas: OR 3.29, 95% CI 2.65-4.07). However, 24-h presence of senior physicians (nonspecific medical specialty) (hip fracture) and availability of external senior physicians (specific medical specialty) (both groups) were negatively associated with DD. DD was associated with increased 30-day readmission (hip fracture, mean 9.45% vs 13.76%, OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.28-1.66, p < 0.001) and episode costs (hip fracture, 61,681 DKK vs 109,860 DKK, log cost 0.58, 95% CI 0.53-0.63, p < 0.001; erysipelas, mean 20,818 DKK vs 56,329 DKK, log cost 0.97, 95% CI 0.92-1.02, p < 0.001) compared with episodes without DD.

CONCLUSION: DD was found to have a negative impact on two out of three study outcomes, and particular organisational characteristics seem to be associated with DD. Yet, the complexity of organisations and settings warrant further studies into these associations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145
JournalBMC Emergency Medicine
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

    Research areas

  • Denmark, Diagnostic error, Emergency medicine, Emergency service, hospital, Organization and administration

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 226940668