To the Editor.
—Dr Bundens and colleagues1 are correct that confusion about nomenclature can have disastrous results. In their study, they emphasize the potential for missed diagnosis and, therefore, faulty treatment. As the following case reveals, the potential is real.A 74-year-old woman was admitted to the hospital because of congestive heart failure. Asymmetric swelling of the legs suggested a concomitant diagnosis of deep venous thrombosis. A Doppler study was performed, but the written report was unavailable. In this hospital, the medical staff can listen to the dictated report via telephone. The medical student, resident, and attending physician each listened to the report independently, and each thought the patient had only superficial thrombophlebitis. When the official report became available, it became clear that the superficial femoral vein was involved. Treatment with heparin was begun, and the patient recovered.All three listeners to the report had missed the key words
Schreiber R. Superficial Femoral Vein Thrombosis: A Potentially Confusing Term. JAMA. 1996;275(6):445. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530300028027