System-Wide Alerts Create a Reduction in Cancer Diagnosis Delays

A new report published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology focuses on the benefits of electronic triggers designed to spot certain “cancer flags” or risk factors for cancer noted in patient data. These triggers, guided by algorithms within an electronic health records system, are able to alert healthcare providers of potentially problematic issues which might cause delays in follow-ups with potentially at-risk patients.

The study, conducted by researchers at both the Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakely Veterans Affairs Medical Center, archived large amounts of data from 72 participating primary care clinics over a 15-month period. Applying their methodology, researchers were able to not only identify problems causing delays in cancer diagnosis for some patients, but they were also able to reduce the diagnosis time for some colon and prostate cancer patients.

According to one of the researchers, “Missed or delayed diagnoses are among the most common patient safety concerns in outpatient settings, and measuring and reducing them are a high priority.”

Depending upon clinical presentation, varying schedules of patient follow-up were implemented, and one of the researchers at Baylor College of Medicine helped to develop the complex data analysis process, establishing what triggers would be monitored.  This process was developed in the hopes of “improv[ing] patient care and safety.”

Failures in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer remain significant issues.  Whether it is a failure to timely diagnose a cancer or its precursor, an incorrect diagnosis, or a failure to timely and/or properly treat cancers, these shortcomings can all affect a patient’s prognosis (survivability) and treatment options.

If you have questions concerning a missed cancer diagnosis or failure to follow-up in a timely fashion, please contact the personal injury team at Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari for a consultation at no cost to you. 973-845-4421.

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