Doctor botch: treatment errors increased rapidly

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The German Medical Association reports thousands of treatment errors every year

Last year, more than 11,000 patients turned to the arbitration boards for alleged medical treatment errors. This emerges from the statistics on treatment errors in clinics and private practices for the year 2010, according to the latest announcement by the German Medical Association on Tuesday in Berlin.

The arbitration boards examined 7,355 patient complaints about alleged misdiagnoses and treatment errors and found treatment errors in 2,199 cases. In 1,821 patients, the health consequences of the wrong treatment were so serious that they suffered a claim for damages. According to the experts, the number of unreported cases is significantly higher. In this way, treatment errors not only create a latent risk for the patient, but also cause massive costs in the healthcare system.

Over 11,000 patient complaints about alleged treatment errors Due to alleged treatment errors, 11,016 patients called the expert committees and arbitration boards of the medical associations last year, the German Medical Association said. Of the complaints received, 7,355 cases were examined and 2,199 incorrect treatments or insufficient patient information about the risks of the intervention were confirmed. In 1,821 cases, the health consequences of the clearly documented treatment errors were so serious that a claim for damages could be derived from them, the Federal Medical Association continued. According to current statistics, 87 patients died as a result of treatment errors. Although the doctors in Germany, according to the former President of the German Medical Association, Jörg-Dietrich Hoppe, are firmly determined from the beginning of the year to learn from their mistakes and therefore "appropriate structures have been built up long ago" that document the treatment errors, the Number of treatment errors in 2010 cannot be reduced.

Treatment errors in clinics most common Treatment errors in clinics and hospitals were the most common cause of patient complaints, with the focus being on incorrect treatments for knee or hip arthrosis. Treatment errors in herniated discs, broken bones and breast cancer were also criticized relatively frequently. Possible consequences of these incorrect treatments included nerve damage with walking disabilities, continued back pain after an intervertebral disc operation and neglected risk information regarding upcoming procedures. Another operation was often necessary to correct the treatment errors, said the German Medical Association. While the complaints after an operation predominated in the clinics, the most frequent cause of criticism of the patients among the practicing doctors was errors in the diagnosis of the disease. The therapy recommendations and referrals to specialists and hospitals by the resident physicians, on the other hand, were largely error-free, according to the results of the current statistics.
Undisclosed figure: 40,000 patient complaints per year, in fact, since the arbitration boards and expert committees of the medical associations are not the only institutions that patients can turn to for alleged treatment errors, it can be assumed that the number of actual treatment errors is far higher than in the current one Statistics released. This is how experts like Dr. Andreas Crusius, chairman of the standing conference of the expert commissions and arbitration boards, assumes that patients annually complain about 40,000 treatments to the arbitration boards, courts, the medical service of the health insurance companies or liability insurance companies and that they are right in every fourth case. Although Dr. According to Andreas Crusius, "a new culture for dealing with errors has been established in medicine in recent years", in which the doctors document all errors and near-errors, analyze possible causes and develop strategies to avoid the errors, but a significant reduction the treatment error has so far not been achieved. By consistently pursuing the motto: "If you want to avoid mistakes, you have to know where they happen!", The chairman of the Standing Conference of Expert Commissions and Arbitration Boards hopes to achieve a significant reduction in treatment errors in the future. Dr. cited one of the main causes of the incorrect treatment as Andreas Crusius also the increasing pressure that the doctors are exposed to. However, the treatment errors recorded in relation to the 400 million doctor-patient contacts per year are not cause for concern.

Opportunities to complain about treatment errors
The health expert at the Consumer Advice Center North Rhine-Westphalia, Kai Vogel, explained in an interview with “Welt Online” that patients who have become victims of a treatment error ideally speak to the doctor treating them about possible errors. Although the doctors will not necessarily admit their mistakes, they know the patient's medical history and can react fastest to possible complications. In addition, the current statistics show that patient care is in most cases rather unjustified. If nothing could be achieved in the conversation with the doctor, those affected have the opportunity to contact their health insurance company and ask for support there. Some health insurance companies maintain a medical service to clarify the possible treatment errors, which can issue a corresponding report, explained the expert of the consumer center. In addition, those affected can also obtain a private medical report to prove possible treatment errors, but the patients usually have to finance this themselves. Finally, the expert committees and arbitration boards of the medical associations, which provide free reports on the alleged treatment errors, are "of course occupied by the medical profession," explained Kai Vogel. In addition, the specialist recommends that the affected person consult a specialist lawyer for medical law in order to clarify the chances of success of a lawsuit in advance. (fp)

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