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The Prevalence and Significance of Outpatient Malpractice

Posted on July 5th, 2011

The term medical malpractice tends to conjure images of hospital-related oversights and improper surgical procedures; however, many are surprised to learn that such instances only make up a little over half of the total malpractice claims filed each year.

Incidents of malpractice don’t just happen in Baltimore hospitals; they occur in various outpatient settings, as well. According to a study published June 15 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), almost as many malpractice claims paid on behalf of medical professionals arise from outpatient settings as they do from inpatient settings in hospitals. Examples of potential outpatient incidents of malpractice include the following.

• Unnecessarily painful procedures that cause patients to develop painkiller addictions

• Failure to diagnose and adequately treat diabetes

• Allergic reactions to drugs when allergies were properly disclosed ahead of time

• Improper or inadequate prescriptions

• Long-term bone damage due to a failure to order x-rays

• Permanent injury or death as a result of an improper diagnosis

• Laboratory errors

• Infection due to inadequate sterilization

• Permanent physical damage due to improper setting of bones

To Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers, the significant number of outpatient malpractice claims comes as no surprise. Each year, there are approximately 30 outpatient visits to every one hospital discharge, and both minor and relatively major surgical procedures are now performed in ambulatory surgery centers and physician offices which often lack the same safety controls offered by hospitals.

Contrary to some assumptions, injuries due to inpatient malpractice are often quite significant with approximately 70 percent involving death, brain damage or some other permanent grave injury.