Massachusetts Medical Society: Avoiding Medical Mistakes and Errors

Avoiding Medical Mistakes and Errors

Avoiding Medical Mistakes and Errors

In their groundbreaking report To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System, published in 1999, the Institute of Medicine defined medical errors as the failure of a planned action to be completed as intended or the use of a wrong plan to achieve an aim.  According to that same report by the Institute of Medicine, as many as 98,000 people die in hospitals each year as a result of preventable medical errors.  More recent studies found that rates for adverse events in hospitals may be much higher than previously measured. This course describes the most common causes of medical mistakes and strategies to improve health care delivery and decrease medical mistakes. Following the informational material a case study is used to help the learner see how medical errors can occur, and the best way to avoid them.

Learning Objectives

  • Classify medical mistakes and identify which ones are most common.
  • Describe some of the most common causes of medical mistakes.
  • Restate the Institute of Medicine principles to improve health care delivery and decrease medical mistakes.
  • Explain the magnitude of medical errors in the United States and their impact.


Matthew Mortensen, Content Contributor 
Caroline Carregal, Director, MMS Continuing Education and Certification 
Kathleen Bellisle, Manager of MMS Distance Learning

Course Fees

Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) Member: $15.00
Non-MMS Member: $30.00
Allied Health Professionals: $12.00



Activity Term
Original Release Date: March 15, 2017
Review Date: N/A
Termination Date: March 15, 2020

CME Credit

1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™

Accreditation Statement
The Massachusetts Medical Society is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. 

AMA Credit Designation Statement
The Massachusetts Medical Society designates this enduring material for a maximum of 1.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ .  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. 

This activity meets the criteria for the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine for risk mangment study.

MOC Approval Statement 
Through the American Board of Medical Specialties ("ABMS") ongoing commitment to increase access to practice relevant Maintenance of Certification ("MOC") Activities through the ABMS Continuing Certification Directory , this activity has met the requirements as an MOC Part II CME Activity (apply toward general CME requirement) for the following ABMS Member Boards:

Allergy and Immunology
Colon and Rectal Surgery
Family Medicine
Nuclear Medicine
Orthopaedic Surgery
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Plastic Surgery
Preventive Medicine
Psychiatry and Neurology
Thoracic Surgery

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

Physician Assistants may claim a maximum of 1.00 Category 1 credits for completing this activity. NCCPA accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by ACCME or a recognized state medical society.

A score of 70% or higher is required to receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™ 

System requirements:

Windows, XP, Vista, 7, 8 
Mac OSX 10.6 higher 
Most modern browsers including: 
Firefox 18.0+ 
Chrome 26+ 
Safari 5+ 
Flash player is required for some Online CME courses.
iOS devices beginning with OS version 5 or higher (includes, iPhone, ipad and iTouch devices) 
Android devices including tablets and phones. 
Windows RT and tablets on Windows 8 are also supported.


Copyright © 2019. Massachusetts Medical Society, 860 Winter Street, Waltham Woods Corporate Center, Waltham, MA 02451-1411

(781) 893-4610 | (781) 893-3800 | Member Information Hotline: (800) 322-2303 x7311