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Patients face risks at the doctor's office

Patients may expect to receive effective, reliable care when they walk into a New Jersey clinic, doctor's office, or hospital for an appointment or a diagnostic test. Still, there are major concerns about patient safety even when people are well enough to seek treatment on their own. According to a study by the ECRI Institute, there are four primary risks to patients who walk into a professional office or clinic for care, including errors in testing and diagnosis, medication mistakes, patient falls and security issues. The study examined over 4,300 safety problems related to ambulatory care between 2017 and 2018.

Almost half of all patient safety problems related to diagnostic testing errors. These types of medical mistakes can lead people to suffer from delayed diagnoses and delayed treatment. For people with progressive diseases like cancer, early treatment and detection can be critical to a successful outcome. Therefore, a failure to diagnose based on a mistaken laboratory test can have long-range consequences. Around 69% of these errors involved lab tests, while 21% involved imaging tests.

Medication safety and drug errors are a major concern in any aspect of medical care. Drug interactions, incorrect dosages or mistaken prescriptions can be harmful or even fatal. Medication errors are the fourth most common cause of malpractice claims, and 42% of all drug mistakes happen during ambulatory care rather than inpatient hospitalization. The most common reason for these errors involved providing a wrong drug or confusing one patient with another. While less directly related to medical care, slip-and-fall accidents and security incidents also posed a threat to patients.

Medical errors can have serious consequences for people who receive a mistaken diagnosis or incorrect treatment. Patients who have suffered a worsened health condition due to a doctor error may consult with a medical malpractice attorney about their options to pursue compensation.

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