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Massachusetts Medical Mistakes Impact Almost 25% of State’s Residents, Reports Poll

According to a recently released survey, almost one-quarter of Massachusetts residents or someone close to them has experienced a medical mistake in the last five years. About 50% of those who reported the error said that serious health consequences resulted.

The poll, conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, surveyed 1,224 residents. The researchers said that a lot of people chose not to report a medical mistake either because they didn’t think it would make a difference or they did not know how to report the incident.

According to the Boston Globe, the survey is one of a number of reports commissioned by the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety and Medical Error Reduction. Lehman, a 39-year-old mother, died twenty years ago after she was administered a massive overdose of an anticancer drug.

This week, a federal government issued a study suggesting that there may be a decrease in the number of people dying yearly because of preventable medical errors. While that figure was estimated to be as high as up to 98,000 hospital patients a year in 1999, the Department of Health and Human Services has just concluded that from 2010 to 2013, hospital acquired conditions dropped by 17%. This resulted in about 50,000 fewer hospital patient deaths from medical mistakes in the U.S.. The major reasons cited for this change were a decrease in medication mistakes and pressure sores.

Per the Harvard survey, the most common Massachusetts medical errors experienced by residents included:

• Wrong diagnosis • Being administered the wrong test, treatment, or surgery • Unclear or erroneous instructions regarding follow-up care • Medication errors, such as the wrong drug or the wrong dosage • Infection related to the medical care that was provided
At Altman & Altman, our Boston medical malpractice lawyers represent patients (and their loved ones) who sustained serious health complications or illness because of a Massachusetts medical mistake. You could be entitled to compensation. The sooner you report what happened, the more time you have to build your case.

In Massachusetts, a plaintiff typically has three years from the action that caused the injury or death to file a legal action. A cause of action happens when a plaintiff discovers, or should have reasonably found out, that the harm was caused by the defendant’s behavior.

Medical errors in Mass. still common, study finds, The Boston Globe, December 2, 2014

Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety and Medical Error Reduction

Obama administration announces major decline in medical errors
, Los Angeles Tomes, December 2, 2014
Poll finds many in Massachusetts have firsthand experience with a medical error, Harvard.edu, December 2, 2014

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