Because of the trust and reliance placed in doctors and the health care system, the quality and safety of the care you receive should be an important concern to you. Patients have the right to receive adequate care and be familiar with the options available to them when the care they receive has not be up to standard.

Studies showed that as we entered the new century, 44,000 victims, and perhaps as many as 98,000 victims, died each year in the U.S. due to preventable medical errors. Estimated deaths attributed to medical errors were higher than deaths resulting from car accidents. The estimated cost to victims of medical errors was between $17 billion and $29 billion. The total costs include additional medical care necessary because of the medical errors, lost income, lost productivity and disability. Victims of medical malpractice, and their families, may also suffer additional damages including pain and suffering.

Medical errors result in a loss of trust, as well as damages to victims. Medical malpractice can refer to medical errors including wrong-site surgery, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or medication errors that can cause significant harm to victims. Massachusetts works to help keep victims of medical malpractice safe. In 2014, Massachusetts was one of six states that accounted for nearly half of all medical malpractice payments against doctors.

Of particular concern to victims is the safety of the medical care they receive and what they should do if they have been harmed by medical negligence. Victims of medical malpractice should be aware that legal options are available to assist and protect them in a number of situations when they have been harmed by medical malpractice.

Source: National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, “TO ERR IS HUMAN: BUILDING A SAFER HEALTH SYSTEM,” November 1999