Safety risks in the ambulatory setting


  • This article is written based on the AMA's review of publicly available research and other efforts to address ambulatory patient safety between 2000 and 2010.1 Any views or opinions expressed are those of the authors and should not be construed as statements of the American Medical Association, nor of the authors and advisors to the AMA's project, nor their employers or other organizations that they may represent.


Over the past decade, the focus of safety implementation has been on hospital settings, and most research on patient safety has examined hospital care. Yet, each year, 300 Americans are seen in ambulatory settings for every 1 person admitted to a hospital, and research shows that errors in ambulatory settings can be just as devastating as those in hospitals, and, as in the hospital setting, ambulatory errors or events often trigger legal action. The American Medical Association's report summarizing and compiling the past decade's research identifies 3 general gaps in the current research that impede safety analysis and 6 errors that are most common in ambulatory care that warrant attention. As new models of care emerge with an increased focus on continuity across care settings, there are also nascent opportunities for risk managers to analyze and evaluate ambulatory safety, implement strategies, and develop and test tools that could result in safer patient outcomes.