Patient Safety Gets Much Needed Attention


A new study on patient safety reports that every year, doctors diagnosis close to 12 million adults in U.S. outpatient settings and doctors’ offices inaccurately.  Nearly half of the mistakes lead to more serious health problems.  Up until now, patient safety statistics do not exist showing how often healthcare staff in clinics and doctors’ offices make diagnostic errors.  A team of researchers in Texas decided to concentrate their efforts on this concern and explore the issue, further.

Patient safety gets more attention

There is a lot of consideration and focus on patient safety, especially since the launching of the Affordable Care Act; however, patients in hospitals get most of the necessary attention.  On the other hand, healthcare professionals in clinics and doctors’ offices are the ones who do most of the medical examinations and formulate a diagnosis for patients; therefore, this is where establishing and adhering to patient safety standards requires extra concentrated efforts.

The lead author of this recent study, Dr. Hardeep Singh, patient safety researcher at Houston’s, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, and Baylor College of Medicine, asserts that since a huge number of people are outpatients and vulnerable to being misdiagnosed; healthcare organizations and professionals should focus more attention on the patient’s health and well-being.  Researchers, lead by Dr. Hardeep Singh, compiled data from earlier studies, and determined that diagnosis for about five percent of the patients receiving outpatient care, about 12 million adults, are inaccurate.

Outpatient settings get more scrutiny

The researchers noted that the error rate figures might be even higher due to faulty medical records or data flaws.  A misdiagnosis could lead to more serious health outcomes, including unnecessary treatments for medical problems that do not exist, to delayed cancer treatments.  However, not all misdiagnosis lead to severe harm, according to Dr. Singh; nonetheless, close to half of the mistakes are harmful to a patient’s health.

Outpatient settings need more scrutiny; outpatients call for more attention when it comes to patient safety.  Healthcare organizations, health advocates, and lawmakers need to look at the facts about misdiagnosis in clinics and doctors’ offices.  For further review, this recent research project will publish this month in BMJ Quality & Safety, a British medical journal.

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George Zapo, CPH
George Zapo, CPH is certified in Public Health Promotion & Education. George focuses on writing informative articles promoting healthy behavior and lifestyles. Read more of George's articles at his website: