Despite more than two decades of effort, medical harm and error remain a significant challenge for Massachusetts. The Center's research is focused on gaining a stronger understanding of the incidence, consequences and potential solutions to persistent and emerging patient safety risks in all health care settings across the state.
Between 20 - 25% of adults in Massachusetts have an experience with medical error in their care or the care of someone close to them. In a 2018 survey, many report the errors caused physical, emotional or financial harm to them or their families. These findings align with similar surveys nationwide.
In a single year, preventable medical errors in Massachusetts cost more than $617 million in extra insurance claims. This is an underestimate of the full cost. This research study captured the cost for additional medical services needed to correct the health consequences of a subset of all medical errors as identified through health insurance claims data.
The human cost of medical harm — to patients and their families — includes emotional and physical impacts that can linger. In many cases, people who've experienced harm avoid the health care providers involved in the error or lose faith in the health care system more generally.
Massachusetts is one of 26 states that collect at least some data on patient safety events, but it is limited in scope and therefore insufficient for answering key questions about progress toward a safer health care system for all patients in the state.
... and How Massachusetts Can Lead the Way on Patient Safety (June 2019)
Experts describe risks to patient safety in Massachusetts and potential mitigation strategies. (Dec. 2014)
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. (Dec. 2014)
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. (Dec. 2014)
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. (Nov. 2014)