Are Adverse Patient Events Less Frequent in Primary Care Settings?

July 8, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Patient safety incidents are a relatively frequent occurrence in primary care settings; however, most do not result in significant harm to patients, found a review published in the July 2016 issue of BMJ Quality and Safety. The authors investigated nine systematic reviews and 100 primary studies and found a median of 2 to 3 patient safety incidents for every 100 consultations/patient records reviewed. The authors estimated that around 4% of the incidents may be associated with severe harm (events that significantly affected a patient's well-being, including long-term physical or psychological issues or death). The most frequent and harmful errors were diagnostic or prescribing errors, the authors said. While patient safety errors in primary care settings are frequent, they are less frequent than in hospitalizations (roughly 10% of hospitalizations are associated with a patient safety error).

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