A new report published by the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety, a state health agency, has revealed that medical errors in Massachusetts are more prominent than many people realize: about 20 percent of Massachusetts residents were victims of a medical error between 2013 and 2018. On top of that, the prevalence of medical errors has not seen significant improvement in the past two decades.
The most common – and costly – medical errors in Massachusetts include the following:
- Pressure ulcers (mostly bedsores)
- Post-surgical infections
- Accidental lacerations/punctures during surgery
Researchers were able to estimate the number of errors based on an analysis of insurance claims in 2013. They found that in 2013 alone, Massachusetts residents experienced nearly 62,000 medical errors, which equates to approximately 170 medical errors every day. These errors resulted in over $617 million in excess health insurance claims, or just over one percent of the state’s annual health care expenditures.
The Hidden Costs of Medical Errors
The researchers then completed 253 in-depth interviews to learn more about the non-financial consequences that medical error victims are forced to face. Most individuals who reported medical errors felt some combination of depressed, sad, betrayed, anxious, and angry at their medical providers. Additionally, over half of medical error victims were less trusting of the healthcare system and avoided the doctor or facility where the error occurred.
Perhaps even more alarmingly, between 34 and 45 percent of medical error victims reported avoiding medical care as a result of the error, which puts them at greater risk of missing other conditions. How a medical provider approaches the error can make a big difference in mitigating these negative effects, though. Patients who reported that their provider apologized after the error felt less angry, abandoned, depressed, and betrayed that those who did not receive an apology. They were also highly likely to believe that the provider’s apology was sincere.
If you or a loved one has suffered due to a preventable medical error, reach out to us today at 617-391-9001 or fill out our online contact form for a free legal consultation.
A partner at Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP in Boston, J. Tucker Merrigan represents individual clients throughout all of Massachusetts and the United States—concentrating his practice on cases that involve personal injury, defective medical devices, dangerous drugs, wrongful death, premises liability, products liability, medical malpractice, and insurance law. Known for strong client relationships and positive results, Merrigan has been named a Top 40 Under 40 Trial Attorney by National Trial Lawyers from 2015-2018 and named Super Lawyer Rising Star for 2018.