HSS study underscores consequence of diagnostic errors for lumbar spine conditions — 5 insights Featured

Written by  Megan Wood | Thursday, 12 January 2017 20:39
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A New York City-based Hospital for Special Surgery study analyzed diagnostic errors for lumbar spine conditions, published in The Spine Journal. Spreemo Health's Quality Research Institute funded the study.

Richard Herzog, MD, HHS' director of spinal imaging and executive director of Spreemo Health's QRI, led the study.


Here are five insights:


1. The study unveiled variability in provider quality and high diagnostic error rates.


2. In the study, a patient received a lower-back MRI at 10 different imaging centers over three weeks. Among the 49 findings reported from these tests, " Zero interpretive findings were reported in all 10 study examinations and only one finding was reported in nine out of 10 study examinations," according to the abstract.

3. Since radiological diagnostic errors are common issues, the variability of MRI interpretation could result in significantly differing treatment recommendations for the same patient.


4. For the patient previously mentioned, treatment recommendations may vary from physical therapy to surgery.


5. The study underscored the importance of accurate radiological diagnoses, as inaccurate diagnoses may result in poorer care quality and heightened payer costs.


"It has real-world consequences for patients: an incorrect diagnosis can lead to misdirected therapies, complications and increased disability," said Peter J. Moley, MD, assistant attending physiatrist at HSS and a study co-author. "This study underscores the need for better standards of diagnostic quality."


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