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Danes’ different approach to medical malpractice

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Danish health card. All  adults citizens have them.

København (Copenhagen), Sjælland (Zealand), Danmark (Denmark) Photo: News Øresund - Johan Wessman © News Øresund Detta verk av News Øresund är licensierat under en Creative Commons Erkännande 3.0 Unported-licens (CC BY 3.0). Bilden får fritt publiceras under förutsättning att källa anges (Foto: News Øresund - Johan Wessman). The picture can be used freely under the prerequisite that the source is given (Photo: News Øresund - Johan Wessman). News Øresund, Malmö, Sweden. News Øresund är en oberoende regional nyhetsbyrå som ingår i projektet Øresund Media Platform som drivs av Øresundsinstituttet i partnerskap med Lunds universitet och Roskilde Universitet och med delfinansiering från EU (Interreg IV A Öresund) och 14 regionala; icke kommersiella aktörer.

The Little Mermaid Stature in Copenhagen.

This ProPublica investigative piece looks at how Denmark got rid of the traditional medical-malpractice civil law and improved patient safety.

The article notes:

“The U.S. system for compensating injured patients — medical malpractice lawsuits — effectively shuts out patients when the potential damages are small. Proving negligence, the usual standard for winning compensation, is difficult. There are scant incentives for doctors and hospitals to apologize, reveal details about what happened, or report errors that might unveil a pattern.

“Denmark offers a radically different alternative, as do similar programs in other Scandinavian countries and New Zealand. To be sure, these countries have nationalized health care systems. …”

“Common to all these programs is a commitment to provide information and compensation to patients regardless of whether negligence is involved. That lowers the bar of entry for patients and doesn’t pit doctors against them, enabling providers to be open about what happened.”

“Denmark’s compensation program has been in place since 1992, replacing a lawsuit-based approach much like that in the U.S.”

“Today, medical injury claims aren’t handled by the Danish court system but by medical and legal experts who review cases at no charge to patients. Patients get answers and can participate in the process whether or not they ultimately receive a monetary award.

“Filing a claim is free. Patients are assigned a caseworker to shepherd them through the process. The hospital or doctor is required to file a detailed response, which patients may rebut. Patients have access to their complete medical record and a detailed explanation of the medical reviewers’ decisions. All of this is available for patients and their families through an online portal, which alerts them when there are developments in their claims process.

“Compensation is awarded if reviewers determine the care could have been better, or if the patient experienced a rare and severe complication that was ‘more extensive than the patient should reasonably have to endure.”’

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