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Financial and Human Cost of Medical Errors – New Report

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A new report from state officials in Massachusetts on the frequency and costs — financial and human — of medical errors in Massachusetts estimates that at least 62,000 medical errors occur every year — 170 a day on average. Almost a third cause serious harm. And an additional 12% — many thousands every year — involve death. And the emotional trauma medical errors inflict on patients and their loved ones often endures for years, officials found.

The extra care required following medical injuries adds up to at least $617 million a year in excess health care costs, writes WBUR. This number does “not come close to representing the full financial cost of medical care,” the report says, because it doesn’t account for lost income, malpractice claims and other indirect costs. Comparing these numbers to the Betsy Lehman Center’s last report on medical errors in Massachusetts nearly five years ago, it’s clear the problem hasn’t improved.

The report draws on massive amounts of health insurance claims, studies on the frequency of errors that don’t show up in bills and a survey of 5,000 Massachusetts residents on their own experiences of medical injury, the largest statewide survey so far.

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