Need to Focus Efforts on Outpatient Safety

bandaid.jpgIt’s not surprising to Indiana medical malpractice attorneys that so much effort is spent every year on enhancing inpatient safety. After all, tens of thousands of hospitalized patients are injured or contract deadly infections due to errors made in hospitals. However, all this focus on inpatient safety may have had a detrimental effect on outpatient safety. According to a new study, the proportion of outpatient injury-related medical malpractice claims has actually been increasing.

According to the study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, there were more than 10,739 paid medical malpractice claims in 2009, and out of these, 4,910 were for events that occurred in an inpatient setting, while 4,448 were for events that occurred in the outpatient setting. While there wasn’t much difference in the number of medical malpractice claims involving inpatient and outpatient settings, there was a slight increase in the proportion of outpatient claims. The proportion of medical malpractice claim payouts for incidents that occurred in outpatient settings increased from 41.7% in 2005 to 43.1% in 2009.

The most common outpatient medical malpractice claim factor was diagnostic error. In inpatient settings, the most common factor in medical practice claims was surgical error. In both these cases, the errors resulted in major injuries or death.

Indiana medical malpractice lawyers
cannot deny that there are certain challenges to enhancing patient safety in an inpatient environment. Typically, hospitals tend to have lower staffing levels for outpatient settings, and this may mean that there aren’t enough numbers of doctors and nurses available to reduce errors. Also, the risk of errors in an outpatient setting is greater during the transition from an outpatient setting to community-based care.