Over 40,000 treatment errors in the past year


Too many treatment errors in German medical practices and clinics

Last year around 23,000 patients complained of medical treatment errors. In around one third of the complaints, medical reports actually recognized medical errors. According to the medical service of the statutory health insurance companies, the number of unreported cases is significantly higher. Many sufferers do not complain or the complaints are not recorded statistically.

Often treatment errors by dentists
The myth of "demigod in white" has long since disappeared. More and more patients are watching their doctors more clearly. Doctors make mistakes not only in clinics but also in outpatient medical practices. In some cases, for example, incorrectly prescribed medications can even lead to death. According to the medical service, most therapy errors happen to the dentists.

Of these, 12,484 were examined by an opinion from the medical service of the health insurance companies. The treatment error was recognized in about a third of the cases. For 2012, the medical service of the health insurance companies confirmed exactly 3932 treatment errors. The number is still high, but the number of cases is below that of the previous year.

In addition, around 11,000 patients came to the medical experts' offices last year. Here, too, the proportion of confirmed cases was around a third. Officially, the number of cases will not be released to the public until next month.

Most outpatient medical errors occur in the dental field. Dental pulp therapies, tooth decay therapies, the use of bridges and root canal treatments are most commonly affected. In the inpatient area, most patients complained about treatment errors during hip or knee surgery.

The experts assume that "the undisclosed number of therapeutic errors is much higher". Numerous cases that are heard in German courts or cleaned by insurance companies are not included in the statistics. "It would be a pure speculation to call total numbers," said the Vice Director of the Medical Service of the Association of Health Insurance Funds Stefan Gronemeyer.

Around 40,000 treatment errors in the past year
Some estimates assume that around 40,000 patients in Germany complain every year about mistakes made by doctors at the health insurance companies, courts, insurance companies or medical centers. In two thirds of the cases, treatment errors would occur in the inpatient area (clinics). Another third occurs in medical practices.

In addition to the dental field, errors in orthopedic surgery are particularly common. In this area alone there were around 6000 suspected therapy errors. Gronemeyer emphasized that it wasn't always the doctor's fault. Management often failed. The lack of agreement, inadequate controls and poor planning were problematic. (sb)

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