Medical errors prevalent and costly, new survey of Massachusetts residents shows

By Liz Kowalczyk, Boston Globe

In Massachusetts, a state that prides itself on its top-quality health care, 20 percent of residents have experienced a recent medical error, and most of them said they “still feel abandoned or betrayed by their doctor,’’ a new survey shows.

Researchers also calculated that errors in the state totaled 61,982 in one single year and that it cost $617 million to provide the follow-up care required by those patients as a result of the mistakes — an amount researchers called a conservative estimate.

And despite a heralded Massachusetts law that requires health care providers to disclose medical errors that cause significant harm and encourages them to apologize — similar to laws in other states — only 19 percent of residents who reported an error said a caregiver apologized afterward.

The report to be released Monday by the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety, a state agency, is one of the most comprehensive statewide examinations of medical errors.

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