Assessing diagnostic error in cerebral venous thrombosis via detailed chart review

Ava L. Liberman, Ekaterina Bakradze, Daryl C. Mchugh, Charles C. Esenwa, Richard B. Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Diagnostic error in cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) has been understudied despite the harm associated with misdiagnosis of other cerebrovascular diseases as well as the known challenges of evaluating non-specific neurological symptoms in clinical practice. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of CVT patients hospitalized at a single center. Two independent reviewers used a medical record review tool, the Safer Dx Instrument, to identify diagnostic errors. Demographic and clinical factors were abstracted. We compared subjects with and without a diagnostic error using the t-test for continuous variables and the chi-square (χ2) test or Fisher's exact test for categorical variables; an alpha of 0.05 was the cutoff for significance. A total of 72 CVT patients initially met study inclusion criteria; 19 were excluded due to incomplete medical records. Of the 53 patients included in the final analysis, the mean age was 48 years and 32 (60.4%) were women. Diagnostic error occurred in 11 cases [20.8%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 11.8-33.6%]. Subjects with diagnostic errors were younger (42 vs. 49 years, p = 0.13), more often women (81.8% vs. 54.8%, p = 0.17), and were significantly more likely to have a past medical history of a headache disorder prior to the index CVT visit (7.1% vs. 36.4%, p = 0.03). Nearly one in five patients with complete medical records experienced a diagnostic error. Prior history of headache was the only evaluated clinical factor that was more common among those with an error in diagnosis. Future work on distinguishing primary from secondary headaches to improve diagnostic accuracy in acute neurological disease is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-367
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • cerebral venous thrombosis
  • diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Health Policy
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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