From statewide surveys, we know that medical error is a significant problem in Massachusetts. Our findings underscore the need to address the causes of error, set bold aims for reducing patient harm, and make patient safety a priority in every care setting in the state.
Nearly 1 in 4 adults in Massachusetts have experienced medical error in their care or the care of someone close to them. These findings align with similar surveys nationwide.
Fifty-nine percent of patient-reported medical errors resulted in serious health consequences; 28 percent caused minor health consequences.
Patient safety experts are concerned about “persistent,” as well as “emerging,” risks to safe care that have proven difficult to resolve across institutions and health care settings in the state. These include medication errors, lack of institutional cultures that support safety improvement, and HIT-related harms among others.
Massachusetts is one of 25 states that collect data about the most serious adverse events experienced by patients. Pennsylvania collects substantially more data on patient safety than any other state.
Our statewide survey, by the Harvard School of Public Health, finds that a meaningful number of people experience medical errors, yet most don't think patient harm is a serious problem.
Experts describe risks to patient safety in Massachusetts and potential mitigation strategies.
A study of adverse event reporting systems by the National Academy of State Health Policy found that while data collected by states are incomplete, they can be leveraged to inform initiatives and collaborative learning.
The Betsy Lehman Center spoke with doctors, patients, employers, insurers, health care administrators and others about their concerns, experiences, challenges, and suggestions for improving patient safety.