The Patient Insurance Center in Finland has reported a significant increase in patient injury claims in 2022, with over 9,000 claims filed during the year. Nearly one-quarter of the claims resulted in compensation payments, with the majority relating to surgical and anaesthetic procedures. Claims for compensation due to delays in diagnosis and treatment have also increased in recent years.
The rise in the number of claims filed typically mirrors trends in healthcare, with the number of claims having been on a generally upward trajectory over the long term. However, this trend was disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the number of claims decreasing. In 2022, the number of claims filed approached the record set in 2019, with 7,225 individuals submitting claims relating to 9,241 separate medical procedures or events across various healthcare providers.
The Patient Insurance Center issued rulings on approximately 8,400 claims, with 24% of these deemed to satisfy the criteria for compensation. Of those who applied for compensation, almost 27% received a positive decision in relation to at least one healthcare provider.
The cost of these claims exceeded €40 million, with €27.5 million paid in compensation for injuries sustained prior to 2022. Almost half of the compensation paid related to loss of earnings resulting from the injuries sustained, while over one-third related to temporary or permanent disability. The remainder related to medical expenses and other costs incurred as a result of the injuries.
While the insurance covers only the costs incurred by the claimants, the true costs of patient injuries to healthcare providers and society are much higher. In addition to the financial costs, these injuries can result in significant human suffering for the individuals and their families.
The majority of injuries resulting in compensation (93%) were due to medical errors, where the patient should have been treated differently to avoid the injury. Most of the injuries compensated related to surgical and anaesthetic procedures, with almost half relating to orthopaedic surgery. Dental procedures also resulted in a significant number of claims.
The Patient Insurance Center encourages patients and healthcare providers to report any injuries resulting from medical treatment, with patients able to report the injuries themselves, rather than relying on healthcare providers to make the report. By doing so, individuals can have their claims assessed by an independent and impartial body, which can help to alleviate some of the burden associated with the claims process.
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