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Survey: 1 in 4 Massachusetts patients report a medical error

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report recently stating that across the country, medical mistakes such as a doctor error have begun to decline. However, the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety and Medical Error Reduction, a Massachusetts agency, notes that roughly 25 percent of patients in the state report either experiencing themselves or knowing a loved one who has experienced negligence. The report, according to some experts, demonstrates that there is still much work to be done to protect patients.

Twenty years ago, Betsy Lehman, a Boston Globe reporter, was suffering from breast cancer. She was undergoing chemotherapy when she was mistakenly given four times the amount of drugs she needed, causing her sudden death at the age of 39. While the incident sparked many hospitals to make changes in order to prevent mistakes, the recent report from the agency named after the reporter reveal that more than a million people in the state are still victims of such preventable errors.

Of the people who were surveyed and reported mistakes that either they or their loved ones incurred, roughly half said the errors caused serious health consequences. The most often reported mistake involved a misdiagnosis, but participants also reported medication mess-ups, undergoing the wrong operation or receiving the wrong treatment.

In 2013, the Massachusetts Department of Health received 753 reports of serious incidents. Currently, it is estimated that as many as 440,000 people across the country die every year as a result of a preventable mistake made in a hospital setting. People who have experienced medical negligence should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.  

Source: WBUR’s CommonHealth, “After High-Profile Death, Medical Errors Still Harm Hundreds of Thousands,” Richard Knox, Dec. 2, 2014 

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