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Mistakes, poor hygiene common in hospitals

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Mistakes, poor hygiene common in hospitals
Photo: DPA
08:58 CET+01:00
Health advocates called on Monday for stronger laws to protect German patients' rights after a European Union official said errors were made during one in 10 treatments in Europe's hospitals.

Germany along with other countries needed a stronger system to monitor medical mistakes in hospitals, as well as better hospital management and a system of remedial training for medical staff, EU health commissioner John Dalli said.

“Every tenth treatment in European Union hospitals causes harm to the patient. Many of these medical mistakes are avoidable,” Dalli told daily Die Welt.

“We are calling for medical treatment mistakes to be recorded by the responsible authorities, for complaints to be made easier and compensation to be guaranteed for those affected.”

One of the major factors is simple hygiene, which often falls below even the most basic standards, said the German Society for Hospital Hygiene's spokesman, Klaus-Dieter Zastrow, who is also hygiene specialist at Berlin's Vivantes Hospital.

“The minimum standards of hygiene are not adhered to in many medical procedures. Many people die who don't have to die,” he told the paper.

In Germany it is often exceedingly difficult for patients to pursue damages for medical mistakes, critics say. One reason is that there is no law guaranteeing patients' rights.

The Bundestag's commissioner for patients, Wolfgang Zöller of the Christian Social Union, said: “I would like a patients' rights law, through which the patient can become more of a partner in the health system.”

Zöller said he also wanted a register for hospital mistakes.

“We need a new culture for dealing with errors in medicine.”

Doctors groups, however, have warned against allowing the health system “to fall into roles of victims and perpetrators.”

The German Medical Association has argued that individual patients' rights are “satisfactorily” covered by insurance contracts governing medical treatment.

The Local/djw

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