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Treatment errors happen, but rarely
The German Medical Association has published the latest figures on treatment errors. According to this, a total of 2,245 treatment errors were confirmed in 2016, with 7,639 decisions on suspected treatment errors that were made nationwide by the expert commissions and arbitration boards in 2016. “Mistakes happen, even in medicine. But the likelihood that patients will be harmed by a treatment error is extremely low, ”summarizes Dr. Andreas Crusius, Chairman of the Standing Conference of Expert Commissions and Arbitration Boards of the German Medical Association.
There is again a slight increase in confirmed treatment errors, but the risk remains rather low in relation to the procedures performed. "We don't want to trivialize anything", because behind every mistake there can be a heavy human fate, but the risks in medicine have to be classified correctly in order not to unnecessarily unsettle patients, emphasizes Dr. Crusius. Given the current statistics, there is absolutely no reason for scaremongering and botched charges. Both also harm "the now well-established open error culture in medicine."
Constantly increasing number of treatment cases
According to Dr. According to Crusius, the number of treatment errors must always be considered in connection with the total number of treatment cases in clinic and practice. The outpatient treatment cases increased by 160 million between 2004 and 2015 to 696 million and the situation is similar in hospitals. There, the number of treatment cases increased by more than 2.5 million to almost 19.8 million during the same period. "Judging by that, the number of errors found is in the alcohol range," says Crusius.
Identifiable health damage in 1,845 cases
"The data of the medical associations are absolutely valid because they are based on real cases," emphasized Kerstin Kols, managing director of the arbitration board for medical liability issues of the North German medical associations, when presenting the treatment error statistics. Nationwide, a total of 7,639 decisions were made by the expert commission in 2016 (previous year 7,215) on alleged treatment errors. The number of confirmed treatment errors rose from 2,132 cases in the previous year to 2,245 cases in 2016. In 1,845 cases, the treatment error caused health damage that justified the patient's right to compensation.
Treatment errors are particularly common in knee and hip arthrosis
The statistics also make it clear that the probability of an error is significantly increased with certain types of treatment. The most common diagnoses that led to allegations of treatment errors were knee and hip arthrosis, as well as lower leg and ankle fractures, reports the German Medical Association. In 400 cases, there was a treatment error / lack of risk information, but this did not result in any causal health damage.
Innovative error prevention
The recording of treatment errors is an essential prerequisite for error prevention, explains Professor Dr. Walter Schaffartzik, medical director of the Berlin Accident Hospital and medical chairman of the arbitration board for medical liability issues of the North German Medical Association. “Medicine in Germany is highly innovative. This applies not only to diagnostics and therapy, but also to the area of error prevention and quality assurance. Checklists, quality circles, peer reviews - but also tumor conferences or morbidity and mortality conferences are just a few examples, ”says Schaffartzik.
If errors nevertheless occur, the expert committees and arbitration boards of the medical associations offer possible contact persons who can also call in highly qualified technical experts and lawyers for the exam. “An informal application is sufficient. The report and the final evaluation are free of charge for patients, ”explains the German Medical Association. (fp)