AMA: Studies needed on ambulatory care, too

In a recent opinion piece for American Medical News, the American Medical Association is calling for “much more robust safety research in the ambulatory care setting.”

Patient safety issues in hospitals has been surveyed, reported and documented in length in recent years. “But every physician knows that the need to be vigilant about protecting every patient’s life and well-being doesn’t end at the hospital’s sliding doors,” said in its article. “After all, there are about 300 patient visits conducted in ambulatory care settings for every one hospital admission. Medical errors can and do happen in physician offices, ambulatory surgery centers, skilled nursing facilities and other places where patients receive outpatient care.”


Patient safety experts convened by the American Medical Association Center for Patient Safety reviewed roughly 100 studies from 2000 to 2010 that have investigated outpatient safety. In the group’s December 2011 report, one of the key conclusions was that such research unnecessarily has taken a back seat over the past decade to research conducted on hospital-based problems, according to the article.


“The primary barrier in the way of safety improvement is not a lack of will by physicians to do better. If studies can pinpoint the most harmful ambulatory safety issues and give a tangible sense of the scope of the problems, corrective plans with achievable goals can be crafted for everyone to follow. Outpatient safety improvement efforts could be linked with and complemented by inpatient initiatives that already are in place to help prevent hospital readmissions.”

“Until real data and real solutions are made available, however, the unacceptable status quo will persist despite physicians’ best efforts. Especially in this case, knowledge is power.”

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