Diagnostic Error in Stroke—Reasons and Proposed Solutions

  • Ekaterina BakradzeEmail author
  • Ava L. Liberman
Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke (S. Prabhakaran, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke


Purpose of Review

We discuss the frequency of stroke misdiagnosis and identify subgroups of stroke at high risk for specific diagnostic errors. In addition, we review common reasons for misdiagnosis and propose solutions to decrease error.

Recent Findings

According to a recent report by the National Academy of Medicine, most people in the USA are likely to experience a diagnostic error during their lifetimes. Nearly half of such errors result in serious disability and death. Stroke misdiagnosis is a major health care concern, with initial misdiagnosis estimated to occur in 9% of all stroke patients in the emergency setting. Under- or missed diagnosis (false negative) of stroke can result in adverse patient outcomes due to the preclusion of acute treatments and failure to initiate secondary prevention strategies. On the other hand, the overdiagnosis of stroke can result in inappropriate treatment, delayed identification of actual underlying disease, and increased health care costs. Young patients, women, minorities, and patients presenting with non-specific, transient, or posterior circulation stroke symptoms are at increased risk of misdiagnosis. Strategies to decrease diagnostic error in stroke have largely focused on early stroke detection via bedside examination strategies and a clinical decision rules. Targeted interventions to improve the diagnostic accuracy of stroke diagnosis among high-risk groups as well as symptom-specific clinical decision supports are needed.


There are a number of open questions in the study of stroke misdiagnosis. To improve patient outcomes, existing strategies to improve stroke diagnostic accuracy should be more broadly adopted and novel interventions devised and tested to reduce diagnostic errors.


Diagnostic error Stroke misdiagnosis Stroke mimics Stroke chameleons Patient safety 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Ekaterina Bakradze and Ava L. Liberman declare no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Saul R. Korey Department of NeurologyAlbert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical CenterBronxUSA

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