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More than a decade ago, the Institute of Medicine released a groundbreaking study that estimated almost 100,000 Americans were dying every year due to medical mistakes made in our nation’s hospitals. Today, hospital errors still occur, but the study did kick off a series of initiatives that have vastly improved inpatient care.

But what about outpatient procedures? With the fervor surrounding the Institute of Medicine’s research into hospitals, safety in the outpatient setting took a backseat. Now, although research about the problem is scare, many health care experts are warning that outpatient safety needs to be addressed on the same level as its inpatient counterpart.

Medical Errors More Common in Outpatient Settings; Reasons Unknown

Researchers from the Weill Cornell Medical College recently conducted a comprehensive review of medical malpractice data from the year 2009. Claims involving errors in outpatient care accounted for more than half of medical malpractice payouts in 2009; a total of some $1.3 billion was distributed to victims of botched outpatient procedures.

What’s going on? As almost all research on medical mistakes has focused on the hospital setting since the release of the landmark Institute of Medicine study, experts cannot be certain. Some have suggested that perhaps more complicated procedures, including surgeries, are increasingly moving from inpatient to outpatient settings, where the safety controls in place in hospitals are not present. Another theory is that physicians in clinics and other outpatient care facilities are simply being overworked and overwhelmed.

Top Errors Identified, but Researchers Come Up Short on Preventative Solutions

A report from the American Medical Association broke the most common errors in an outpatient setting into six categories:

         • Medication errors

         • Diagnostic errors

         • Lab errors

         • Lack of clinical knowledge among staff

         • Communication problems

         • Administration issues

Unfortunately, while the report identified these errors, no solutions to improve outpatient safety have yet been presented.

If you or someone you love has suffered injury due to the negligence of a physician, nurse, or other medical professional, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. A medical malpractice lawyer can assess your case and help you get the compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. For more information, contact us today.