A groundbreaking new study from the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety shows that medical errors continue to plague patients in Massachusetts, and that the human and economic costs are astronomical. In particular, the study proved a few essential issues:
Medical errrors are devastating to the economy.
The study revealed that errors in Massachusetts totaled 61,982 in one single year, and that it costs an astonishing $617 million to provide the follow-up care required by those patients as a result of the mistakes. These findings are on the conservative end, according to the study, since the study’s methodology did not take into account diagnostic errors, a common type of medical negligence.
Transparency is essential.
The study also indicated that two-thirds of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with how their health care providers communicated with them after the errors. However, when medical providers showed greater openness in communications, patients reported less emotional harm and less avoidance of health care services.
Only 19 percent of the patients who reported an error said a caregiver apologized after the error was made, even though Massachusetts law requires health care providers to disclose medical errors causing significant harm and encourages them to apologize.
When providers communicate honestly about medical mistakes, patients were less likely to feel betrayed, sad, or depressed, according to the study, and less likely to avoid medical professionals and facilities for future medical care.
The study reaffirms that the public is becoming more aware that medical errors are devastating and more aware that doctors are not holding themselves accountable.
Interestingly, the survey showed that many patients who reported medical errors are astute observers of what happened and why errors were made, which suggests that patients and their families can contribute to patient safety in order to prevent errors from happening to others.
In short, we now have definitive proof that transparency can save lives AND money!
Jeff has been selected to the Best Lawyers in America directory for personal injury and product liability litigation (plaintiffs) for five consecutive years (2015-19), and has been designated as one of the Top Rated Lawyers in Medical Malpractice by The Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal. He has been chosen as a New England Super Lawyer each year since 2009.