The Financial and Human Cost of Medical Error... and How Massachusetts Can Lead the Way on Patient Safety.
The Betsy Lehman Center is a nonregulatory Massachusetts state agency that works to coordinate provider, patient, and policy maker efforts to reduce medical errors. This report describes the results of two studies conducted by the Center and includes a retrospective analysis of insurance claims associated with preventable medical errors. Investigators identified nearly 62,000 errors and calculated excess claim costs due to medical errors of more than $617 million over a 12-month period. The Center also conducted a patient survey exploring harms from medical errors. Respondents reported loss of trust and suboptimal disclosure practices around medical errors. These results collectively convey ongoing, large-scale safety gaps in health care delivery. A past PSNet perspective discussed the tragic error involving Betsy Lehman, who died due to an inadvertent overdose of chemotherapy while receiving treatment for breast cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.