Damages bill at Dutch hospitals up almost 500% in 10 years
According to research by Désirée Klemann, which was recently published in the Dutch Journal of Medicine, in the 10-year period of 2007 to 2016, the total cost of damage claims due to medical errors has almost quintupled.
Dutch hospitals pay out millions
The research by Klemann examines figures from the insurance funds Medirisk and Centramed. These funds take care of damage claims for 95 percent of all Dutch hospitals. In the period from 2007 until 2016, 15.115 claims were submitted to Medirisk and Centramed.
According to the figures, the number of claims filed against Dutch hospitals rose each year up until 2014, after which the number stabilised. Claim numbers only rose by 4,5 percent during the entirety of the 10-year period examined.
Whilst the number of claims has not increased greatly, the amount of money per claim has. It is the increase in larger claims which has pushed the figures for damage bills up at hospitals.
In 2007, hospitals in the Netherlands paid out 9,4 million euros for damage claims based on medical errors. In 2016, this figure had ballooned to 43,2 million euros. The biggest claim, which received compensation in 2016, was for 1,9 million euros. The amount of this claim was surpassed in 2017.
Dutch doctors fear claims
According to Klemann, the increase in the number of claims is better than anticipated and for the majority of claims the compensation given remains unchanged. The increase in the amount of compensation hospitals pay out is down to a few cases where very large amounts are claimed.
Klemann reports that doctors feel that claims are being made more often. This leads to a more defensive approach to medicine, where doctors give more diagnoses than necessary to avoid possible claims.
Ageeth Bakker, Chairwoman at Centramed, feels that the growth in the amount of compensation paid out by hospitals is due to several factors. One of these factors is the growing number of entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. This group loses income as soon as they cannot work and this lost income must be compensated.
The situation is far from the state of affairs in America, according to Bakker, however it is headed in that direction. She also communicates that it would be undesirable to have doctors who no longer want to practice medicine because they cannot afford the liability insurance.