Study Shows Equal Distribution of Malpractice Incidents in Doctors’ Offices, Hospitals

By Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari on July 22, 2011

According to a study conducted by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the chances of sustaining an injury or other harm as the result of medical error is almost the same in a hospital as in a doctor’s office.

Health.usnews.com reported the number of malpractice claims paid on behalf of physicians in doctor’s offices and those paid on behalf of physicians in hospitals. Of approximately 11,000 malpractice payments in 2009, approximately half were paid for harmful events caused by medical errors made in hospitals and half for harmful events in doctor’s offices; though the leading type of medical error was different in each category. In hospitals, the leading causes of adverse or harmful events originated from unsuccessful surgery, whereas the leading cause of adverse events caused by medical error in doctor’s offices was an incorrect diagnosis.

According to researchers, the study also demonstrates the need to improve care in doctors’ offices, including the need to improve coordination between and within doctors’ offices. The study’s lead author states that “a primary care physician may refer a patient to a specialist, but the actual appointment may never happen. A cardiologist may order a scan, unaware that it was already performed during a patient’s hospital stay.”

Although the growing use of electronic health records is helping improve communication between doctors, patient safety in both doctors’ offices and hospitals will always remain a concern.

Our New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Blume Forte have decades of experience in handling meritorious medical negligence claims. To determine whether you may have a valid claim, call us for a no-cost consultation at 973-635-5400.

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