• About the Center

    The Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety and Medical Error Reduction is an independent state agency with a broad mandate to improve patient safety in Massachusetts. It is named after Betsy Lehman, the Boston Globe healthcare reporter who died in 1994 as the result of an overdose of chemotherapy. The Center originally was launched in 2004 within the MA Department of Public Health where it operated until 2010. It reopened its doors in December 2013 following legislation that reestablished it as an independent agency within the Center for Health Information and Analysis.

    The Betsy Lehman Center is now led by Barbara Fain, Executive Director. She was appointed by a board whose members are Attorney General Martha Coakley, Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz, Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs Barbara Anthony, and Áron Boros, Executive Director of the Center for Health Information and Analysis.

    The Challenge

    In the years since Betsy Lehman’s death, much has been learned and accomplished toward improving patient safety. But preventable medical error remains a critical issue. The latest research indicates that over 400,000 American deaths each year are associated with preventable adverse events in hospitals. The high costs in human suffering borne by patients and families, as well as the financial costs, demand even greater strides towards reducing medical error today.

    Next Steps

    The Betsy Lehman Center’s charge under G.L. c. 12C, § 15 is to foster a statewide program of research, data analysis, and dissemination of best practices that engages MA healthcare agencies, healthcare providers, and consumers in initiatives that will reduce medical error and enhance patient safety. During 2014, the Center will conduct a strategic planning process to identify areas of need that it is well-positioned to address and to set goals and priorities for the years ahead. Because promoting a culture of patient safety requires a collaborative approach, the Center will engage a broad range of stakeholders representing consumers, providers, and healthcare organizations in this process.