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Patients Must Enjoy Better Compensation When Things Go Wrong, Med School Prof Says

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Errors and complications in health care are not currently being addressed adequately and the area must be reformed, says a Tartu medical school faculty member.

Ants Nõmper said patient complaints rarely go all the way to court and it is just as rare for patients to be compensated for ineffective treatment. But he counseled against litigiousness.

At a conference coinciding with patients rights day in Europe, Nõmper called the current system "opaque," as hospitals are often not interested in disclosing errors or complications. Disputes must go to court to be resolved but few patients have enough leverage to opt for that route.

"No one is interested in how many complications there are and how damage caused as a consequence of complications can not be just be paid away but corrected," said Nõmper.

Two malpractice-type cases reach court each year on average, which Nömper says is very few.

He recommended that Estonia steer away from the judicial route and said definite rates should be established for complications from illnesses. The focus should not be  on looking for culprits, he said, citing the example of the Nordics where funds exist expressly for compensating patients against complications.

 

Kristopher Rikken

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