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Outpatient care shouldn't entail lower patient safety standards

No matter the circumstances behind a medical visit, patients should be able to expect to receive attentive, quality care provided by doctors, nurses and other professionals. This is a seemingly simple principle that should apply across the board for health care.

A recent study may have uncovered some important disparities in care based on where treatment is administered, the patient's age and a variety of other factors. The study conducted by researchers at Townson University revealed that 20 percent of elderly Medicare patients were subject to injuries unrelated to their underlying health concerns. Of those who were injured, two-thirds received care in an outpatient facility.

Researchers found that elderly patients received the wrong medications and experienced post-treatment complications. It seems as though these problems could be prevented, particularly medication errors. Unfortunately, a medical mistake could take a dramatic toll on someone who is already in a weakened state.

One of the researchers associated with the study noted that more must be done to promote safety in outpatient facilities, such as nursing homes, surgical centers or emergency rooms. Much of the focus is on improving hospital care, which is important, but thousands of people receive medical treatment in outpatient settings every year.

Just because a medical professional isn't practicing in a hospital doesn't mean that standards for care should be lowered. Patients and their families trust that their needs will be met in any type of medical facility. Moving forward, the hope is that these glaring disparities in care are closed.


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