• Germany's news in English

Study: Hospital error kills 20,000 each year

DPA/The Local · 21 Jan 2014, 13:02

Published: 21 Jan 2014 13:02 GMT+01:00

Of the 18.6 million patients treated in hospitals and clinics each year, 190,000 patients report mistakes in their treatment. Of these errors, around 19,000 have fatal consequences, statutory health insurers AOK said following an investigation.

The number of general mix-ups was much higher, with around 360,000 to 720,000 incidents occurring that should not, each year.

Cases of mistreatment included everything from contracting hospital infections, to being prescribed the wrong drugs and having foreign objects left inside the body after operations, the report said.

"More people die each year from hospital mistakes than in traffic accidents," the report said, after analyzing health risks patients faced in the medical system. Around 3,300 people die on the country's roads annually.

And each year an estimated 40,000 health insurance customers raise complaints about their treatment, whether with their doctor, the insurance company, or the courts.

But spokesmen for German doctors claim mistakes are rarely the result of medics doing a bad job, blaming instead organizational problems and the complicated nature of many medical procedures.

The Society of German Hospitals (DKG) insisted that safety standards in German hospitals are the highest they have ever been. "You see it in the international comparison," according to CEO Georg Baum. "Readiness to keep improving quality and safety has never been greater."

And CDU federal health minister Hermann Gröhe has announced hopes to make successful treatment a "touchstone" for patients in Germany, partly through a proposed institute to collect complete data and feedback from patients on every treatment they receive.

Among the goals of the new institute is the creation of a hospital "league table" based on treatment success rates, in which poor results are punished with funding cuts.

READ MORE: Germany needs 4,600 extra doctors

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Erdogan to Berlin: be sensible on Armenia genocide bill
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: DPA

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called Angela Merkel to ask for "common sense" over a resolution recognising the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as "genocide", local media reported.

3 asylum seekers arrested for sexual assaults at music fest
The Schlossgrabenfest in Darmstadt. Photo: DPA

Update: Police in Darmstadt have received 14 complaints of sexual assault from women who attended a music festival in the city over the weekend.

Dalai Lama says there are 'too many' refugees in Europe
The Dalai Lama. Photo: DPA

The Dalai Lama said in an interview published Thursday that Europe has accepted "too many" refugees, and that they should eventually return to help rebuild their home countries.

Footballer Özil’s Mecca visit was unpatriotic, say AfD
Mesut Özil. Photo: DPA

When national football star Mesut Özil posted a picture of himself in Mecca on Facebook it received 21,000 ‘likes’. But Germany’s far right party see it is an act of provocation.

Star winger axed from Germany Euros squad
Marco Reus. Photo: DPA

Marco Reus endured more injury heartache with Germany on Tuesday - his 27th birthday - as he was cut from their final Euro 2016 squad, two years after missing the World Cup.

Every third child in Berlin now dependent on welfare
Photo: DPA

Child poverty is on the rise across Germany. But in the national capital and Bremen the situation is particularly severe.

Kraftwerk defeat makes Germany safe for DJs
A Kraftwerk stage show. File photo: DPA

Techno pioneers Kraftwerk have lost a near 20-year court battle over sampling - making the practice A-OK in Germany for the first time ever.

Hanover teen stabbed police officer 'on orders from Isis'
A police officer standing on a platform at Hanover main station. Photo: DPA

A 15-year-old girl who knifed a policewoman at Hanover's main train station in February may have been acting under orders from Isis terrorists, media reported on Tuesday.

Support for Merkel govt dips below 50 percent
Chancellor Angela Merkel (l) and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (r). Photo: DPA

Germany came in for a political first on Tuesday as a new poll showed combined support for Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government dropped below 50 percent for the first time.

Med rescuers share human cost of refugee crisis
A refugee boat capsizes in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast on May 25th, in an accident in which five people lost their lives. Photo: Marina Militare/Italian Navy/DPA

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: A photo of a dead migrant baby pulled from the Mediterranean was published by a charity hoping to force European leaders to grant migrants safe passage, after hundreds were presumed to have died at sea last week.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
The headless sex doll that put Lübeck police on high alert
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd