According to research published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the outpatient setting accounted for about half of all medical malpractice payments in the United States in 2009. Researchers from Cornell Medical College reviewed information from the National Practitioner Data Bank from 2005 to 2009 and found that the outpatient setting (such as a doctor’s office) accounted for nearly as many medical malpractice claims as the inpatient setting (such as the hospital). The analysis also noted that claims deriving from the outpatient setting had increased significantly since 2005.

Although the most common outcomes that resulted in medical malpractice payments were the same (major injury and wrongful death), the reasons were different. In the outpatient setting, most claims were based on a diagnostic error, while in the inpatient setting most claims were based on surgical errors. Payments for inpatient errors were also higher by a statistically significant amount, an average of $362,965 for inpatient vs $290,111 for outpatient.

As health care is changing, more and more procedures are being performed in an outpatient setting, and it is likely that we will see a continuing increase in serious medical errors occurring in this setting.

If you have been hurt as a result of a doctor’s error, whether in the hospital or in the doctor’s office, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries. To learn whether you have a case, please contact Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA today for a free initial consultation.