Multicenter evaluation of a method to identify delayed diagnosis of diabetic ketoacidosis and sepsis in administrative data

Kenneth A. Michelson*, Richard G. Bachur, Andrea T. Cruz, Joseph A. Grubenhoff, Scott D. Reeves, Pradip P. Chaudhari, Michael C. Monuteaux, Arianna H. Dart, Jonathan A. Finkelstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To derive a method of automated identification of delayed diagnosis of two serious pediatric conditions seen in the emergency department (ED): new-onset diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and sepsis. Methods: Patients under 21 years old from five pediatric EDs were included if they had two encounters within 7 days, the second resulting in a diagnosis of DKA or sepsis. The main outcome was delayed diagnosis based on detailed health record review using a validated rubric. Using logistic regression, we derived a decision rule evaluating the likelihood of delayed diagnosis using only characteristics available in administrative data. Test characteristics at a maximal accuracy threshold were determined. Results: Delayed diagnosis was present in 41/46 (89%) of DKA patients seen twice within 7 days. Because of the high rate of delayed diagnosis, no characteristic we tested added predictive power beyond the presence of a revisit. For sepsis, 109/646 (17%) of patients were deemed to have a delay in diagnosis. Fewer days between ED encounters was the most important characteristic associated with delayed diagnosis. In sepsis, our final model had a sensitivity for delayed diagnosis of 83.5% (95% confidence interval 75.2-89.9) and specificity of 61.3% (95% confidence interval 56.0-65.4). Conclusions: Children with delayed diagnosis of DKA can be identified by having a revisit within 7 days. Many children with delayed diagnosis of sepsis may be identified using this approach with low specificity, indicating the need for manual case review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-389
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023


  • administrative data
  • diabetes
  • diagnostic error
  • emergency medicine
  • healthcare system
  • pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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