Back to Journals » Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology » Volume 11

A diagnostic checklist for generalized dermatitis

Authors Nedorost S

Received 26 August 2018

Accepted for publication 14 September 2018

Published 31 October 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 545—549


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Jeffrey Weinberg

Susan Nedorost1,2

1Department of Dermatology, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA; 2Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106 USA

Purpose: Generalized dermatitis (defined as histological spongiotic dermatitis affecting more than three anatomical areas of the skin surface) has many potential causes that mimic atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. If a treatable cause is missed, the patient may be treated with chronic immunosuppressive therapy that carries more risk than specific treatment for a disease mimicking dermatitis. Checklists have been shown to improve patient safety, primarily in procedural contexts. This work assessed the utility of a diagnostic checklist for subacute and chronic generalized dermatitis in patients who had not improved after at least 1 month of avoidance of contact allergens identified by comprehensive patch testing, if indicated.
Patients and methods: Designed as a quality improvement project using Standards for Quality Improvement Reporting Excellence (SQUIRE) guidelines, a diagnostic checklist was used by the principal investigator for 1 year in a tertiary referral dermatitis clinic for patients without a confirmed cause for the dermatitis after two to three visits with the investigator. All patients had had diagnostic patch testing if indicated. Almost all had undergone skin biopsy by their referring provider. Fifteen patients met the criteria for inclusion in this study. Outcome measures included provider and patient perception of efficiency and/or confusion caused by the checklist. Length of time from the initiation of use of the checklist to final diagnosis was recorded. Additional diagnoses considered that were not included in the initial checklist were added to the checklist during the course of the study.
Results: The checklist was useful in improving diagnostic efficiency (prompting consideration of diagnoses not otherwise considered upon initiation of the visit that resulted in a final plan of care) in these complex cases of recalcitrant dermatitis. Open utilization of the checklist by the investigator during the clinical encounter was well accepted by patients and families.
Conclusion: Checklists can be useful for complex cognitive diagnostic work.
IRB approval status: University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center Institutional Review Board # 11-15-34.

Keywords: diagnostic error, patient safety, negative or irrelevant patch test results

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]