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Massachusetts doctors’ mistakes can have grave legal consequences

| Jun 10, 2013 | Anesthesia & Medication Errors

Medical errors can cost providers big bucks, but the real caveat when being checked in to a hospital is how those errors can affect patients. Whether it’s Boston General or any of Massachusetts’ other major hospitals, an error in medical procedures can result in complications, secondary health problems or even death. A recent study by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority states that a mistake can cost between $17 billion to more than $1 trillion. The article discusses reasons why these mistakes can happen.

Some of those reasons include confusing the identity of patients sharing a room, ignoring established safety protocol used to identify the correct patient and choosing the wrong patient from an automated dispensing cabinet. More than 40 percent of the errors occur on the administrative side and 38 percent from transcribing a paper medication order to its electronic form. Twelve percent stem from prescribing errors and 5 percent from administering an incorrect drug.

To guard against a worst-case scenario, medical facilities use a computerized prescriber order entry (CPOE) system and they encourage greater engagement by patients and their families to catch mistakes in time. Doctors and hospitals pay high medical malpractice insurance premiums to protect themselves from the risk of a lawsuit, but despite the safety precautions taken, the CPOE can still cause mistakes. Human error can come into play through failure to check for allergies, inattention to details or general carelessness.

According to the Massachusetts statutes of limitations, medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within three years after the fact except in the case of foreign objects. Last year’s reforms divided attorneys as to whether they would actually reduce the medical liability issue or complicate legal proceedings for patients who were the victim of malpractice. The Disclosure, Apology and Offer guidelines were an attempt to control the state’s health care costs, but controversy over how this could ultimately affect the patient may still linger. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can advise patients on a case-by-case basis.

Source:, “Why are medication orders going to the wrong patients? Here are four reasons Read more:“, Stephanie Baum, June 07, 2013


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