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Four safety risks that patients face in ambulatory care

The ECRI Institute Patient Safety Organization has released a report detailing the safety hazards that patients face in ambulatory care settings. Georgia residents should know that diagnostic errors were the top risk, accounting for 47% of the 4,300 safety events analyzed in the study. After this came medication-related safety events at 27% and patient falls at 14%.

The safety events analyzed occurred between December 2017 and November 2018. Ambulatory care settings provide patients with doctor consultations, diagnoses, interventions and a range of other services. Among the diagnosis-related safety events that arose in these settings, 69% involved laboratory tests, and 21% involved imaging tests. Researchers recommend the use of decision support tools so that the right tests are ordered.

The most common medication-related safety events, 67%, had to do with errors like operating on the wrong patient or administering the wrong drug. Monitoring errors were behind 16% of medication safety events. These could be avoided, researchers state, through better safety education, standardized policies for medication management and other steps.

Most of the falls occurred in a physician practice. Screening for falls and training staff to identify fall hazards are essential steps. Lastly, the study revealed that security incidents were the fourth most common safety event; three-fourths of workplace assault cases in the U.S. arise in health care settings.

Medical errors can form the basis for a medical malpractice case, but several requirements must be met for a case to be valid. There must be proof that the other side failed to live up to a generally accepted standard of medical care. Since malpractice claims can meet with opposition, victims may want legal representation. A lawyer may handle all negotiations when arguing for a settlement that covers past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering and whatever else applies.