On average, more than 2,000 patient injuries are compensated annually, of which approximately 85 are serious. Since 1987, over 700 million euros have been paid in compensation for patient injuries to patients and their families. Photo: Syda Productions Mostphotos

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Each year in Finland, over 2,000 compensable patient injuries occur, with annual compensation payouts ranging between 20 and 30 million euros. While most of these injuries are minor, the compensation for severe cases can reach millions of euros over time.

Annually, an average of over 2,000 patient injury claims are settled, of which about 85 are classified as serious.

Since the introduction of the Patient Injury Act in 1987, patients and their families have received over 700 million euros in compensation.

The Patient Insurance Centre reviews approximately 9,000 patient injury claims each year, with just over one-fifth resulting in positive compensation decisions. In 2023, 4,563 individuals received a total of 26.3 million euros in compensation, primarily for injuries sustained before that year.

"Compensation from patient insurance covers only a fraction of the total costs caused by patient injuries," explains Minna Plit-Turunen, Director of the Patient Insurance Centre. "The true costs to healthcare and society are much higher, not to mention the human suffering experienced by the injured and their families."

In 2023, nearly half (45%) of the compensations were for lost earnings due to patient injuries, while over a third (35%) were for temporary and permanent disabilities. The remaining compensations covered medical expenses and other costs directly related to the injuries.

The majority of the compensated injuries (93%) are minor, with an average payout of around 2,500 euros per case. However, in severe cases, compensation can exceed one million euros over the years, primarily covering lost earnings.

"For example, a child injured at birth due to a patient injury who is unable to study or work may receive lost earnings compensation from the estimated graduation date up to retirement age," Plit-Turunen notes. "Additional costs for assistive devices, therapy, and medications may also be covered. Although every preventable injury is one too many, healthcare should aim to identify and mitigate the most severe risks."

Finland was the first country to systematically investigate patient injury claims, beginning in 1987. Since then, approximately 2,500 deaths and 700 cases of severe permanent disability due to patient injuries have been compensated.

Under the Patient Insurance Act, all patients in Finland are automatically covered, as healthcare providers are legally required to have insurance for patient injuries. Compensation covers the financial impact of the injury but does not extend to the treatment costs of the original illness or condition.

"Unlike in some other countries, no one gets rich from patient injury compensation in Finland, nor is that the intent," Plit-Turunen emphasizes. "The aim is to restore the injured person to the financial position they would have been in without the injury. While health may not always be fully restored, the compensation helps manage the consequences of the injury."

In Finland, patients do not need to hire a lawyer or go to court to seek compensation. The patient insurance system is designed to be accessible and automatic, providing a safety net for patients.

"The compensation process is straightforward and patient-friendly, ensuring that those affected by patient injuries receive the support they need without additional legal burdens," Plit-Turunen adds.

The financial figures in the press release have been converted to euros using the exchange rate of 5.95.

HT

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