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Health care in Massachusetts is not as safe as it needs to be. We explore the harmful impacts of medical errors — and the opportunities for improvement — in The Financial and Human Cost of Medical Error … and How Massachusetts Can Lead the Way on Patient Safety. It details our research findings and proposes a coordinated response to accelerate safety and quality improvement.


  • Medical errors are frequent, harmful, and costly. We identified nearly 62,000 preventable harm events and more than $617 million in excess health care insurance claims — accounting for more than one percent of the state’s Total Health Care Expenditures for 2017. 
  • Medical harm erodes public trust in health care. In addition to long-lasting physical, emotional, and financial harms, survey respondents who experienced a medical error report a loss of trust in providers and the health care system, and many avoid health care altogether.
  • Communication matters. More than 60% of survey respondents were dissatisfied with the communication from their provider after the error. However, when providers communicate openly about errors, patients report lower levels of emotional harm.

What we're doing about it

The Massachusetts Health Care Safety and Quality Consortium developed the Roadmap to Health Care Safety for Massachusetts, a long-term strategic plan to break new ground on safety statewide.

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