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Thousands at risk of medical errors

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Thousands at risk of medical errors
Photo: DPA
17:46 CEST+02:00
Doctors and surgeons make more errors when operating on knee and joints, a new report has shown. Longer working hours and high pressure can cause mistakes, many of which go unreported.

Experts from the medical profession recorded a total of 2,243 errors in medical treatment last year, of which 77 cases were fatal.

In more than one in four of the 7,922 treatments that were studied, the patients' suspicion of errors on the part of medical staff were confirmed, said the German General Medical Council in Berlin on Monday.

Around three-quarters of the treatments that were examined were related to hospitals, the remainder at doctor's surgeries. Most of the assessments concerned surgeons in A&E and orthopedists, followed by other surgeons and physicians specializing in internal medicine.

More errors were made last year in cases of arthrosis of the hip compared to individual diseases, albeit with only 73 recorded cases in 2013, with more than a third of the mistakes occurring during operations.

Of the 691 million treatments per year, Johan Neu, executive director of the north German conciliation body, said that no-one knew exactly how many medical errors there really are - but that the numbers showed medical treatment was safe on the whole.

Doctor's enormous work load increases the risk of mistakes. In addition the pressure of costs in hospitals is often very high and puts a strain on the work.

However, lawyer Frank Teipel who specializes in the representation of patients, added that people are repeatedly undergoing unnecessary surgery.

"The statistics from the industrial tribunal only shows the tip of the iceberg,” said Maria Klein-Schmeink health expert from the Green party.

Kathrin Vogler from the Linke added, “Specialists, however, estimate the number of cases are likely to be around a million, and more.”

According to social VdK many patients turn for lack of trust neither the medical profession nor to the cash - and shy away from litigation because of the cost. "As a result, the result is that patients do not get justice," said Ulrike Mascher.

The German Welfare Society stated that due to lack of trust in medical profession and the insurance companies, many affected patients shy away from legal proceedings because of the cost.

"As a result, the patients do not get justice," said Ulrike Mascher president of the VdK.

The German Hospital Association has called for more money for personnel and infrastructure, so that safety is guaranteed.


 

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