Pediatric hypertension is a serious problem associated with target organ damage in children and an increased risk for adult hypertension. African-American and Latino children are disproportionately affected. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, including the complexity of blood pressure (BP) standards, pediatric hypertension is undiagnosed in the majority of cases. We sought to identify factors associated with correct diagnosis and to better understand diagnosis of hypertension by studying the diagnostic paths of a small number of children.
Data were extracted from electronic health records (EHRs) of children who met criteria for hypertension. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with correct diagnosis. Diagnostic paths for 20 diagnosed children were extracted through chart review and analyzed.
Among 1478 hypertensive children, only 85 were diagnosed (6.1%). Age ≥12 compared to age ≤6 was associated with correct diagnosis [odds ratio (OR) of 1.96, 95% confidence interval (CI) (1.16, 3.32)]. Diagnostic paths revealed that primary care providers (PCPs) make the diagnosis based on multiple readings over time and order laboratory tests appropriately.
Hypertension is missed in a large proportion of all children. Effective, systematic approaches to diagnosis are necessary.
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Diagnosis aims at answering the question how diagnosis determines the quality of medical care. It focuses on how diagnosis can be advanced, how it is taught, and how and why it can fail, leading to diagnostic errors. The journal welcomes both fundamental and applied works, improvement initiatives, opinions, and debates to encourage new thinking on improving this critical aspect of healthcare quality.