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Massachusetts study finds medical errors are not uncommon

Medical malpractice can have devastating consequences for victims which is why they should be familiar with the legal protections available to them. A recent report released by a Massachusetts state agency revealed that 20 percent of Massachusetts residents surveyed had experienced a recent medical error. A total of 5,000 Massachusetts residents were surveyed and insurance data from 2013 was used. Researchers calculated that in one year, medical errors in Massachusetts equaled 61,982 and the total cost of follow-up care needed as a result of those errors was conservatively estimated at $617 million.

The findings are similar to findings at the national level and reveal that not much has changed related to medical malpractice and medical errors in the past 20 years. The most common and costly errors according to the study included pressure ulcers and post-surgery infections which was also a finding similar to national studies. In Massachusetts, victims suffered 14,369 pressure ulcers and 4,625 infections following operations during 2013. During the same year, victims also suffered over 15,000 accidental punctures or lacerations during surgery and foreign objects and surgical sponges were left in the bodies of victims 224 times.

Diagnostic errors were not included in the study and because insurance data from 2013 was used, some may argue that medical errors have decreased since that time. Medical errors occurred in nursing home settings, hospitals and doctor offices. According to one expert, most incidents of medical errors involve more than one lapse in care. Though there has been some improvement in medication errors and for certain infections, many harmful medical errors persist. In addition, doctors are encouraged to apologize but researchers also found that few actually do. Medical malpractice can leave victims feeling angry and depressed.

Medical malpractice can also leave victims with costly medical bills, needing additional treatment and unable to work because of the harm they have suffered. Because of this, victims and their families should be familiar with medical malpractice legal resources that can help them recover compensation for their physical, financial and emotional injuries.

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