German study shows alarming trend in hospital Deaths
by FFE EU News Staff
According to statutory health insurers AOK, of the 18.6 million patients that visit hospitals and clinics each year, 190,000 report mistakes in their treatment. A further 10% of these also lead to deaths. The figure for general mix-ups is higher: around 360,000 to 720,000 incidences of errors happen yearly.
The cases of errors could be anything from getting infected in the hospitals, being prescribed the wrong medicines to having surgical tools left behind after operations.
AOK said that the number of deaths due to medical errors is higher than deaths due to traffic accidents, which is put at 3,300 per year. This news further rocks German opinion on the quality of the national healthcare system as the country expressed concern over the quality of immigrant doctors who practice in the country.
The Society of German Hospitals (DKG) however said that errors are not the result of bad jobs but organisational problems and complicated procedures. DKG CEO Georg Baum stressed that the safety standards in German hospitals are high by international comparisons and that ‘Readiness to keep improving quality and safety has never been greater.’
CDU federal Health minister Hermann Gröhe proposed to institute a feedback table that collects data from patients on the quality of treatment they receive. The idea is to see which hospitals score poorly and have to be punished by funding cuts.
News of medical errors reaching alarming numbers is not unique to Germany. Last year, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) has drawn criticism after figures reveal their hospitals had the most number of deaths from cases of blunders and mistakes.
According to the National Reporting and Learning System, UK patients who died due to errors increased from 2,864 in 2011–2012 to 3,588 in 2012–2013. In America, medical errors have also been rated as the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.