Report: Medical Errors Affect One in Five of Massachusetts Residents

A new report published by the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety, a state health agency, has revealed that medical errors in Massachusetts are more prominent than many people realize: about 20 percent of Massachusetts residents were victims of a medical error between 2013 and 2018.  On top of that, the prevalence of medical errors has not seen significant improvement in the past two decades.

The most common – and costly – medical errors in Massachusetts include the following:

  • Pressure ulcers (mostly bedsores)
  • Post-surgical infections
  • Accidental lacerations/punctures during surgery

Researchers were able to estimate the number of errors based on an analysis of insurance claims in 2013. They found that in 2013 alone, Massachusetts residents experienced nearly 62,000 medical errors, which equates to approximately 170 medical errors every day. These errors resulted in over $617 million in excess health insurance claims, or just over one percent of the state’s annual health care expenditures.

The Hidden Costs of Medical Errors

The researchers then completed 253 in-depth interviews to learn more about the non-financial consequences that medical error victims are forced to face. Most individuals who reported medical errors felt some combination of depressed, sad, betrayed, anxious, and angry at their medical providers. Additionally, over half of medical error victims were less trusting of the healthcare system and avoided the doctor or facility where the error occurred.

Perhaps even more alarmingly, between 34 and 45 percent of medical error victims reported avoiding medical care as a result of the error, which puts them at greater risk of missing other conditions. How a medical provider approaches the error can make a big difference in mitigating these negative effects, though. Patients who reported that their provider apologized after the error felt less angry, abandoned, depressed, and betrayed that those who did not receive an apology. They were also highly likely to believe that the provider’s apology was sincere.

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a preventable medical error, reach out to us today at 617-391-9001 or fill out our online contact form for a free legal consultation.

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Work Stoppages Address Opioid Abuse in Massachusetts Construction Workers

On June 5, 50 construction project sites from Boston to Springfield held work stoppages as the industry grapples with the alarming rate of fatal opioid overdoses among construction workers. During the stoppage, the Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts led opioid-focused talks at the sites to raise awareness about the problem.

This comes shortly after a noteworthy April 25 report that detailed on-the-job deaths in Massachusetts. Completed by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (Mass COSH) and Massachusetts AFL-CIO, the report brought to light the staggering number of construction worker fatalities caused by opioid overdoses. Additionally, between 2011 and 2015, one in four fatal Massachusetts worker opioid overdoses were construction workers.

It has been well-established that the construction industry is one of the most dangerous to work in. The injury rate for construction industry workers is 77 percent higher than the national average, and construction deaths accounted for over one in three work-related fatalities in Massachusetts in 2018.  As a result of these injuries, addictive opioids are prescribed to those experiencing acute or chronic pain. Today, opioid addiction has become so prevalent in the industry hat construction workers are six times more likely to have a fatal overdose than workers from other industries.

The aging workforce and heavy physical demands of the industry are likely contributing factors to construction workers’ high rate of opioid abuse. This makes it clear that implementing safer working conditions, thus having fewer injuries, should be a top priority in the field. In other words, reducing the number of injuries would subsequently reduce the opioid prescriptions and overdoses.

This epidemic is not isolated to Massachusetts alone. Between 2010 and 2016, Ohio construction workers were seven times more likely to die from opioid overdoses than other industries’ workers. Ultimately, it is apparent that this is an epidemic within the construction industry that needs to be addressed immediately. Hopefully, initiatives such as the work stoppage are a step in the right direction to do so.

If you have been injured on a construction site, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible following the incident. Contact our team of Boston construction accident lawyers today for a free consultation to see how we can help restore your health and peace of mind.

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