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Almost 300 suspected medical errors in Hesse - over 3,000 nationwide
Almost 300 suspected cases of a treatment error were reported to the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) in Hesse in 2015 alone. Nationwide, 3,275 suspected treatment errors occurred at TK last year. "More than half of the allegations refer to errors in operations or an incorrect diagnosis was made," said the TK.
Of the nationwide suspected cases of treatment errors, most concerned the surgical field (1,204 cases), but also dental cases (387), complaints about treatments with orthopedic surgeons (194) and general practitioners (192) were not uncommon, according to TK data. "Not every suspected case actually turns out to be a treatment error, but we also suspect a high number of unreported cases in addition to the reported cases," emphasizes Christian Soltau, telecommunications expert for medical law.
Every single mistake is one too many
According to the TK, patients can often find it difficult to assess the extent to which a treatment error has occurred. Many find it difficult to “distinguish whether their illness is fatal or whether there is a treatment error.” This means that not every suspected case is confirmed at the end. Nevertheless, "every single mistake is one too many," emphasizes Dr. Barbara Voß, Head of the TK State Representation in Hesse. Here there is "an obligation and a challenge for everyone working in the healthcare sector to avoid errors in treatment."
Draw correct consequences from mistakes
In modern medicine, the complexity and thus the risk of new sources of error is increasing continuously. The TK reports that the further expansion of the safety culture in healthcare is all the more important. In the case of errors, the focus is often still on who made a mistake. But it is much more important "the question of what caused the error and how it can be avoided in the future," emphasizes Dr. Voss. If the correct consequences are drawn from mistakes, patients can be cared for better and safer, the head of the TK state representative in Hesse continues.
If a treatment error is suspected, the TK recommends that the insured "first speak to their doctor about this." The affected parties can then seek advice from their health insurance regarding the further course of action. Most of the time, clarifying allegations of malpractice is a "time-consuming, complex and often difficult procedure", reports the TK. For example, several months could pass from the request of all necessary medical documents to the preparation of a required report. "Often, those affected have to wait several years until it is clear whether they will receive compensation," said the TK. In the opinion of the health insurance company, the procedures should "be carried out much more quickly and those affected should be compensated at an early stage, since in severe cases insured persons can no longer work after a treatment error and their financial existence is thereby threatened." (Fp)