What are common mistakes doctors make

Although doctors in Germany made fewer mistakes in treating their patients last year than in 2014, more patients died as a result of inadequate care. According to the German Medical Association, the number of proven treatment errors fell by around five percent from 2252 to 2132 during this period. In more than 80 percent of the cases (1774), the patients suffered damage to their health as a result in the past year, in more than 650 people it is be permanent. Both numbers are down compared to 2014. However, the number of deaths that could be attributed to medical errors rose by almost a third from 73 to 96. So even if medical professionals made fewer errors overall, these were evidently more often particularly serious.

In the past year, hospital patients or their relatives in particular turned to the arbitration boards of the state medical associations because they suspected inadequate care. In every third case, the entries related to the treatment of knee and hip arthrosis, in a further third they were based on the treatment of bone fractures.

The specialist areas of trauma surgery, orthopedics and general surgery were particularly often affected - so the patients were primarily dissatisfied with the results of operations. But clinicians also made mistakes when it came to diagnostics, and they made a wrong diagnosis in almost 140 cases. Much feared infections after the operation, however, were hardly reflected in the statistics, it only lists 67 cases in this category.

"Constantly growing treatment pressure"

Resident doctors, on the other hand, mainly made mistakes in diagnosis and less in therapy. Breast cancer and the treatment of back pain in particular were the cause of criticism. According to the President of the Medical Association in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Andreas Crusius, the number of errors, given the many treatments, was "at most in the per mille range". Crusius is also chairman of the expert committee of the German Medical Association, he presented the study on Wednesday in Berlin. He emphasized that there are "grave human fates" behind the numbers.

As a reason for treatment errors, the German Medical Association refers to the "steadily growing treatment pressure in clinics and practices". The number of outpatient treatment cases increased by 28 percent to 688 million cases between 2004 and 2014. However, the number of resident doctors also rose by almost 20 percent over the same period.

The health policy spokeswoman for the Greens in the Bundestag, Maria Klein-Schmeink, interpreted the figures from the medical association as the "tip of the iceberg". The arbitration boards did "important work but cannot replace necessary improvements to strengthen the rights of victims of medical malpractice". The patient rights law of the black-yellow coalition, which came into force three years ago, has "still not resolved" the question of how injured patients can enforce their concerns. Klein-Schmeink therefore demanded that there should be a hardship fund for those patients who suffered "serious damage" but had problems with providing evidence. Several associations, including the social association VdK, had spoken out in favor of setting up such a fund.