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Primary care doctors, outpatient facilities cause medical errors

It is estimated that between 210,000 and 440,000 people are killed or injured due to preventable medical errors in Montana and across the United States each year. Many people assume that busy hospital emergency rooms are to blame for these statistics; however, medical personnel in primary care and outpatient facilities also share the blame.

A recent study by researchers at the Whole Health Organization found that 40% of people who suffered negative effects due to medical errors had them occur in a primary care or outpatient setting. The WHO also estimated that 80% of these medical errors were preventable. Previous studies have found that the majority of medical care that people around the world receive takes place in an outpatient setting.

The WHO report also found that errors in outpatient and primary care facilities contribute to the necessity for inpatient medical care. In the period studied, more than 7 million people were admitted to the hospital across the world due to medical errors in an outpatient setting. The WHO recommends investing more time in these settings in making a proper diagnosis and striving to prevent other medical errors, such as the spread of infection, to decrease these statistics.

More than 5% of people who are seen in a primary care or outpatient facility will not receive the correct diagnosis for their medical condition. Unfortunately, diagnostic errors attribute to 10% of patient deaths. Medical personnel need to take the time to correctly diagnose their patients to prevent medical errors, injury and death from occurring. When a doctor fails to make the correct diagnosis, he or she might be responsible for the death or injury. A lawyer may be able to help an individual or family affected by a medical error to determine if medical malpractice occurred. If it did, the injured party may be able to receive medical and compensatory damages.

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Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
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