More patients are harmed by medical errors stemming from care received in physicians' offices than in hospitals, a new study concludes.
The research by the Robert Graham Center in Washington was published in the April edition of the peer-reviewed journal Quality & Safety in Health Care. In the study, "Learning from Malpractice Claims about Negligent, Adverse Events in Primary Care in the United States," researchers looked at 5,921 malpractice claims that could be identified as errors that occurred in the primary-care setting from 1985 to 2000.
In a prepared statement, Robert L. Phillips Jr., M.D., the lead author and assistant director of the Graham Center, said the research "shows the actual location where people are being harmed and that's in the outpatient setting more often than in hospitals. The overwhelming majority of healthcare in the United States is delivered outside of hospitals and we cannot assume that medical errors in outpatient settings are less harmful than those in hospitals."
Of the errors found in the claims, 68% were for negligent events in outpatient settings. They resulted in more than 1,200 deaths.