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Are Medical Errors More Prevalent In Inpatient Or Outpatient Settings?

Major surgery and other significant treatments often require patients to check in to the hospital. However, with the growth of outpatient surgical centers and some treatments now available at a doctor's office, you have more choices. Your doctor should explain the risks of each alternative, but you also need to do your own homework to help identify the safest alternative.

In a study conducted in 2009 involving nearly 11,000 medical malpractice claims, adverse events occurred about equally in both inpatient and outpatient settings, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. Details of the study may indicate that patients need to exercise caution in any setting, as follows:

  • In-patient: Because the most common form of in-patient malpractice is surgical errors, patients need to ask about specific safety measures used by the hospital to avoid common errors, such as avoiding wrong-site surgery and inventorying surgical instruments and sponges before and after procedures.
  • Out-patient: Diagnostic errors represented the most commonly-paid claims within the outpatient setting. Unless patients recognize the accuracy of a diagnosis, they should strongly consider obtaining a second opinion from an unrelated facility before undergoing treatment.

You place a great deal of trust in your healthcare providers, even though you may understand that medical science does not have solutions to every condition. Still, you need to take a proactive approach when healthcare is involved. Make sure you receive acceptable answers to all your questions prior to treatment. It's also important, if you sustain any injuries that you believe may point to medical negligence, to consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney who supports claims nationwide and can provide the advice and support you need.

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