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Massachusetts Study Shows Medical Errors Shockingly Common

Again and again studies have shown that the number of instances of medical malpractice in America is shockingly high. Health care provider errors take lives and injure real people on a regular basis. This is why we need to fight against the insurance lobby’s self-interested quest for so-called tort reform-a system of laws designed to strip regular people of their rights to hold those who injure them responsible. Yet another study, this time out of Massachusetts, shows how serious the problem of medical malpractice is.

Nearly One out of Four Massachusetts Resident Either are or Know a Medical Error Victim

The Boston Globe reported on the new Massachusetts study that shows almost 25% of Massachusetts residents say either they or someone close to them “experienced a mistake in their medical care during the past five years.” Half of those people say the medical error resulted in serious health consequences. That means that approximately 1.2 million adults would report an error, and that 600,000 of them would report serious health consequences as a result if every resident of the state were polled. These are the results of a survey of 1,224 Massachusetts residents by the Harvard School of Public Health..

Boston’s public radio station, WBUR reports that about half of the reported errors involved misdiagnosis, while others included patients saying they received incorrect treatment. Health care related infections also accounted for some of the errors, as did improper instructions regarding follow-up care. The numbers are backed up by a 2003 study of Massachusetts hospital patients. At that time, researchers interviewed people who had been admitted to 16 medical institutions about their treatment and then checked their statements against their medical records. That study showed that twenty-three percent of the patients claimed to have had an “adverse event.”

The new Harvard poll also showed that there is overwhelming support amongst consumers for more disclosure of medical errors. Nine out of ten people said that medical providers should be required to disclose errors to both a state agency and to the patients involved. Ninety-four percent of respondents said the public should be able to find out about the number and types of errors providers have made.

Shocking Results Despite Efforts Toward Improvement After High Profile Case

These shocking numbers exist in the state despite efforts to reduce medical errors after a Boston Globe health reporter named Betsy Lehman was killed by a massive overdose of chemotherapy. In fact, they study itself was commissioned by an agency called the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety and Medical Error Reduction, which was created in Lehman’s honor. The center is an independent agency within Massachusetts’ Center for Health Information and Analysis.

Ms. Lehman was a 39-year old woman who was being treated for breast cancer when she was given a dose of a cancer drug that was four-times as high as her dose should have been. Another woman who was in the same treatment program as Lehman, named Maureen Bateman, also received a massive overdose of the drug. She survived the overdose but suffered severe heart damage and ultimately succumbed to her cancer a could of years later.

See Related Posts:

How Many People Would Die Due to Medical Errors if there Were No Civil Justice System – Part 1

Healthcare Associated Infections: Alarming Statistics