Diagnostic errors are the most common, most costly, and most catastrophic of medical errors. Interdisciplinary teamwork has been shown to reduce harm from therapeutic errors, but sociocultural barriers may impact the engagement of allied health professionals (AHPs) in the diagnostic process. Methods: A qualitative case study of the experience at a single institution around involvement of an AHP in the diagnostic process for acute dizziness and vertigo. We detail five diagnostic error cases in which the input of a physical therapist was central to correct diagnosis. We further describe evolution of the sociocultural milieu at the institution as relates to AHP engagement in diagnosis. Results: Five patients with acute vestibular symptoms were initially misdiagnosed by physicians and then correctly diagnosed based on input from a vestibular physical therapist. These included missed labyrinthine concussion and post-traumatic benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV); BPPV called gastroenteritis; BPPV called stroke; stroke called BPPV; and multiple sclerosis called BPPV. As a consequence of surfacing these diagnostic errors, initial resistance to physical therapy input to aid medical diagnosis has gradually declined, creating a more collaborative environment for 'team diagnosis' of patients with dizziness and vertigo at the institution. Conclusions: Barriers to AHP engagement in 'team diagnosis' include sociocultural norms that establish medical diagnosis as something reserved only for physicians. Drawing attention to the valuable diagnostic contributions of AHPs may help facilitate cultural change. Future studies should seek to measure diagnostic safety culture and then implement proven strategies to breakdown sociocultural barriers that inhibit effective teamwork and transdisciplinary diagnosis.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|State||Published - Jun 1 2016|
- diagnostic errors
- physical therapy specialty
ASJC Scopus subject areas