Clinical features of patients inappropriately undiagnosed of pulmonary embolism
ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to identify clinical factors associated with delayed diagnosis of acute pulmonary embolism (PE) in the emergency department (ED).
A retrospective observational study was performed at three University affiliated Hospitals; 436 consecutive patients who presented to the ED with an acute PE confirmed by chest computed tomography from 2008 to 2011 were included. Patients were divided into 3 groups: group 1, PE was diagnosed while the patient was still in the ED; group 2, PE was diagnosed during hospitalization; group 3, patients who were sent home with a wrong alternative diagnosis and returned to the ED and were diagnosed of PE.
One hundred forty-six patients (33.5%) had a delayed diagnosis of PE-21.5% belong to group 2 and 11.9% to Group 3. Chronic coexisting medical conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were independent predictors of a delayed diagnosis in patients who were admitted to hospital whereas non-specific and less severe symptoms like the presence of pleuro-mechanic thoracic pain, fever, hemoptysis, or the presence of a pulmonary infiltrate in chest x-ray were independent predictors of a delayed diagnosis in patients who were sent home.
Delay in diagnosis of acute PE is frequent despite current diagnostic strategies. Patients are sent home or admitted to hospital with a wrong diagnosis depending on clinical presentation or coexisting medical conditions.
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