We have discussed medical malpractice errors in Boston hospitals in previous posts. Many Boston residents suffer severe personal injuries from medical mistakes in area hospitals every day. Medical mistakes such as surgical errors can permanently scar or disfigure a patient and cause emotional and economic harm to the patient’s family.

There are many studies which document the rates of medical malpractice in Boston and around the country, but most of these studies focus on medical errors in hospitals. A recent study by researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College indicates that patients who received medical care outside of a hospital accounted for approximately half of the medical malpractice lawsuit payments in 2009.

Patients can receive medical treatment in a variety of locations outside of a hospital, but typically these patients are seen in small clinics or doctors’ offices. The finding that the number of malpractice claims was consistent between hospitals and outpatient settings was shocking to the lead researcher Tara Bishop.

Bishop and her research team decided to focus on the incidents of malpractice in outpatient settings because of the increasing performance of high-tech diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in outpatient settings. Researchers were curious if the proliferation of these procedures in the outpatient setting had any impact on malpractice claims, and the finding that malpractice claims are consistent in both settings is the first step to preventing patient injuries according to Bishop.

“I hope it’s a wake-up call for the medical community and for patients, so we can start working on ways to solve these problems,” Bishop said.

Source: Reuters, “Medical errors don’t just happen at hospitals: study,” Elaine Lies, 6/14/11