Complaint statistics: More medical treatment errors

Complaint statistics reveal more treatment errors by doctors

According to the recently published complaint statistics by the expert commissions and arbitration boards, the number of medical treatment errors is increasing. In 2011, more than 11,100 complaints were received by the responsible authorities. In 99 cases, the patient died as a result of a treatment error. Overall, the number of complaints rose by one percentage point.

Supposed medical treatment errors must be examined carefully. A detailed examination was carried out for the more than 11,100 complaints. Because there is not always a mistake by the doctor. The cases are complaints to the health insurance companies or competent arbitration boards. They made an arbitration award in around 7,500 cases. In 1,900 cases, it was actually a matter of medical treatment errors. The experts came to this judgment only if a treatment error was closely related to the complaints of those affected. In the remaining cases, this could not be confirmed.

Treatment errors resulting in death are particularly serious. According to statistics, 99 serious and wrong medical measures were taken in 99 cases last year. These were treatment errors that were based either on the choice of the wrong treatment method or incorrect treatments.

500 patients complained of protracted, mild complaints. A cure is possible in such cases, but a great deal of effort is required. In 700 people, there were mild and short-term complaints due to treatment errors. How high a possible number of unreported cases in the categories remains, since the arbitration boards and expert commissions of the medical associations are not the only institutions that patients can turn to. Experts like Dr. Andreas Crusius, chairman of the permanent conference of the expert commissions and arbitration boards, estimate that patients annually complain about 40,000 treatment to the courts, arbitration boards, the medical service of the health insurance companies or liability insurance.

Treatment errors most common in knee and hip surgery According to statistics, most treatment errors occur in knee and hip joint surgery. Treatment errors also occur during routine interventions for broken forearms, lower legs and ankles. No explanation could be given as to why precisely these sometimes simple interventions are more frequently affected by treatment errors.

The expert committee reported positive developments in breast cancer. Medical treatment errors were only recorded in 15 cases, which corresponds to a decrease compared to the previous year. The reason was the faster transfer to mammography.

New legal situation for treatment errors should strengthen patient rights The Federal Association of Health Insurance Funds is calling for a new legal situation that should make it easier for those affected to take legal action against such treatment errors. At present, it is in many cases difficult for medical laypersons to prove technically a connection between a medical treatment error and suffering. The association therefore demands that the burden of proof be placed on the side of the doctors. The doctor would then have to prove that the patient's complaints are not due to his possibly incorrect treatment.

Complaints about treatment errors Kai Vogel, health expert at the Consumer Advice Center North Rhine-Westphalia, advises those affected to talk to their doctor about the possible treatment error. He would not necessarily admit the mistake, but based on his knowledge of the medical history, he could take the fastest measures against possible complications. If nothing can be achieved in the conversation with the doctor, those affected can contact their health insurance company and ask for support there. Many health insurance companies maintain a medical service for this purpose. Patients can also obtain a private medical report. As a rule, however, the costs incurred for this must be borne by yourself. Vogel points out that expert committees and arbitration boards of the medical associations would provide free reports on the alleged treatment errors, but these are occupied by the medical profession. (ag)

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