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To the lay person, it may seem as though hospitals, as opposed to doctors’ offices, are the most likely places for instances of medical malpractice to take place. Hospitals see more patients suffering from desperate medical conditions, and are the location of the most complex and dangerous medical procedures. Treatments afforded at doctors’ offices are typically more routine and less likely to involve high risk to patient health.
This train of thought is logical enough, but a recent study found that it does not conform to the facts. Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College found that, in fact, medical malpractice is equally likely in hospitals and doctors’ offices.
The researchers examined 2009 data from the U.S. National Practitioner Data Bank. During that year, there were almost 11,000 medical malpractice payments made to patients. Of those 11,000 payments, roughly half were for medical malpractice events that took place in hospitals, while the other half were for events taking place in doctors’ offices.
There is some justification for the belief that hospital errors are of a different order than errors at doctors’ offices. Surgical errors were the most common type of medical malpractice associated with hospitals, whereas malpractice at doctors’ offices most typically involved diagnostic errors, including misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose the patient’s condition at all.
Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys were perhaps less surprised by the results of the study than most people. But while identifying where malpractice is taking place is helpful, of paramount importance is to ensure that patients are fully compensated whenever they suffer due to the negligence by any health care provider.
The study, published in the June 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, recommended increased use of electronic medical records as a positive change that would be likely to reduce instances of medical malpractice.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, “Study Finds Equal Number of Errors in Hospitals, Doctors’ Offices,” June 14, 2011