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Report identifies ambulatory care safety risks for patients

Florida patients who visit an ambulatory care center for treatment may be at risk for diagnostic errors, medication mistakes, falls, or security incidents. These were identified as the top risks to patients in this environment by the watchdog group the ECRI Institute. Ambulatory care centers are where patients are most likely to be seen for medical care and include outpatient clinics and doctors' offices.

The study found that errors in laboratory testing resulted in more than two-thirds of diagnostic errors. Imaging tests were responsible for more than 20% of them. The report recommended better communication, better support tools to help doctors determine what tests they should order, and better standard procedures for the testing process.

The report identified the most common types of medication errors as the wrong drug or patient followed by errors in monitoring. The report recommended identifying standard procedures, improving communication and identifying the priorities for improving safety.

Most falls happened in doctors' offices, and the report recommended evaluating patients for fall risk and noting what prescriptions might increase that risk. Finally, the majority of incidents of workplace assaults happen in health care settings. Most commonly, this is patients though it could be family members or others. The report recommended a violence prevention program and regular safety checks throughout the facility.

A wrong diagnosis or a medication error could be a case of medical malpractice. People who believe they have suffered a worsened medical condition as a result may want to consult an attorney about the next steps. it will be necessary to demonstrate that the health care professional or facility didn't exhibit the requisite standard of care.

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