TUESDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Your chances of suffering
harm because of a medical error are about the same in a doctor's
office as in a hospital, according to a new study.
Using the U.S. National Practitioner Data Bank, researchers at
Weill Cornell Medical College compared malpractice claims paid on
behalf of physicians who work in hospitals or doctors' offices.
Of the nearly 11,000 malpractice payments made on behalf of
physicians in 2009, about half were for adverse events from medical
errors that occurred in a doctor's office and half were from errors
that occurred in a hospital.
Adverse outcomes in doctors' offices were most often the result
of incorrect diagnoses, whereas unsuccessful surgery was the most
common cause of negative outcomes in hospitals, according to the
study, published in the June 15 issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers said the finding shows the need to improve care
in doctors' offices.
"Physician practices have not been the focus of patient safety research, much less of policy efforts to reduce medical error," the study's lead author, Dr. Tara Bishop, an assistant professor of public health and medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and a physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said in a college news release.
"Our findings may reflect a lack of coordination within and between doctors' offices," Bishop said. "For example, 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."
"The problems associated with outpatient safety may not be easy to fix, but the adoption of electronic health records is already improving communication between doctors," she noted. "Patient safety is likely to improve markedly as more and more doctors' offices change the way their records are kept, updated and accessed."
The American Academy of Family Physicians outlines ways that
help prevent medical errors.