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Br J Gen Pract. 2014 Feb;64(619):e92-8. doi: 10.3399/bjgp14X677149.

Quality deviations in cancer diagnosis: prevalence and time to diagnosis in general practice.

Author information

1
Research Unit for General Practice, Research Centre for Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care, Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

High quality in every phase of cancer diagnosis is important to optimise the prognosis for the patient. General practice plays an important role in this phase.

AIM:

The aim was to describe the prevalence and the types of quality deviations (QDs) that arise during the diagnostic pathway in general practice as assessed by GPs and to analyse the association between these QDs, the cancer type, and the GP's interpretation of presenting symptoms as well as the influence on the diagnostic interval.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

A Danish retrospective cohort study based on questionnaire data from 1466 GPs on 5711 incident patients with cancer identified in the Danish National Patient Registry (response rate = 71.4%). The GP was involved in diagnosing in 4036 cases.

METHOD:

Predefined QDs were prompted with the possibility for free text. QD prevalence was estimated as was the association between QDs and diagnosis, the GP's symptom interpretation, and time to diagnosis.

RESULTS:

QDs were present for 30.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 29.0 to 31.9) of cancer patients. The most prevalent QD was 'retrospectively, one or more of my clinical decisions were less optimal'. QDs were most prevalent among patients with vague symptoms (24.1% for alarm symptoms versus 39.5% for vague symptoms [P<0.001]). QD presence implied a 41-day (95% CI = 38.4 to 43.6) longer median diagnostic interval.

CONCLUSION:

GPs noted at least one QD, which often involved clinical decisions, for one-third of all cancer patients. QDs were more likely among patients with vague symptoms and increased the diagnostic interval considerably.

KEYWORDS:

delayed diagnosis; general practice; healthcare; neoplasms; quality assessment, risk management

PMID:
24567622
PMCID:
PMC3905405
DOI:
10.3399/bjgp14X677149
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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