Massachusetts Can and Must Do Better Job in Reducing Medical Errors

Twenty years after the death of Boston Globe health reporter pioneer Betsy Lehman, medical errors are still far too common in Massachusetts. Lehman died of an overdose of chemotherapy drugs while being treated for breast cancer that was four times the dosage she was supposed to receive. The following video from The Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Research and Medical Error Reduction tells the moving story.

Two decades later, nearly 1 in 4 Massachusetts residents has had an experience with a medical error, according to research released by The Betsy Lehman Center from the Harvard School of Public Health, RAND Corporation and the National Academy for State Health Policy on the state of patient safety at its Zero Harm: Charting a New Course for Patient Safety event in Boston last month on December 2.

The research shows nearly one quarter (23%) of Massachusetts residents surveyed reported that they or a person close to them experienced medical error in the past five years, and of those involved in a medical error situation, 59% said the error resulted in serious health consequences. The most common type of medical error identified was misdiagnosis, which was reported by 51% of affected respondents.

The Boston Globe reports on the findings here. See the full details of the studies from the Zero Harm event on the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) website: chiamass.gov/zeroharm.

Massachusetts healthcare institutions can and must do a better job in reducing harms. As our previous post reveals, a study on a single aspect of care — patient hand-offs — showed significant reduction in errors. We need to see more such improvements.

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Lubin & Meyer PC - New England's Leader in Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law. Attorneys practicing in MA, NH and RI.

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