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Medical Malpractice in Outpatient Settings

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse or other medical staff makes a mistake that causes harm to a patient. When you think of medical errors, you may automatically assume that they happen in hospitals only. While many do happen in inpatient hospitals, doctor’s offices and other outpatient facilities should not be disregarded altogether.

The types of mistakes that happen in hospitals—such as improper diagnosis, failure to perform adequate testing or errors during medical procedures—can happen in other medical environments as well. Yet these mistakes garner little attention, with patients and their lawyers instead focusing on collecting large financial awards from hospitals. In 2009, of 10,739 medical malpractice claims reported, most (48 percent) occurred in inpatient settings, but 43 percent occurred in outpatient settings. Nine percent of those claims involved both settings.

This shows that outpatient medical malpractice errors occur more often than you might think. But it’s not really that surprising, given that most people receive health care in outpatient settings. Americans visit the doctor 950 million times a year. Compare that to the 34 million hospital discharges per year.

More People Choosing Outpatient Settings

More and more people are choosing outpatient settings to help manage both acute and chronic medical conditions. That’s because many people want to avoid the hospital at all costs, and to deal with this, outpatient settings are offering more services and becoming more high-tech. Most diagnosis errors are made in outpatient settings, so many medical malpractice lawsuits stem from this. In addition, more surgical errors are occurring in outpatient settings, making it riskier than ever for a doctor to practice medicine in an outpatient setting.

Medical malpractice lawsuits in outpatient settings are also based on patient satisfaction. While doctors are not miracle workers who can cure every ailment, if patients are not satisfied with the relationships they have with their doctors, they are more likely to file lawsuits for medical errors.

Hospitals Closing

Another thing to consider is that hospitals are shutting down due to a lack of patients. With more and more patients seeking care at ambulatory care centers and other outpatient facilities, hospitals are operating with fewer beds. Many are shutting down altogether, as it is becoming less cost-efficient to stay open. It is easier to provide low-cost alternatives that offer more access to patients with a wide variety of medical conditions.

In part, the reason why patients are choosing outpatient is cost. Health insurance premiums are rising significantly, making it more expensive for patients to seek medical care in an inpatient facility. The high deductibles alone make it cost-prohibitive, so patients seek outpatient facilities, which are cheaper but still provide patients with the care they need.

Reach Out to a Miami Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Help

While hospitals are the ones that get blamed for medical malpractice, the truth is that medical errors can happen in any environment. Doctor’s offices and outpatient facilities can also cause harm to patients.

If you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice, seek legal help. The Miami, Florida personal injury lawyers at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP can assess your case and help you obtain compensation for injuries. Call us at (305) 371-2692 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation today.