Hospital bill for damages claims soars as more people make complaints

Overall insurance costs have fallen since 1995.
Overall insurance costs have fallen since 1995.

The Dutch hospital bill for damages following medical errors has gone up over 400% in 10 years, the Volkskrant reported on Tuesday.

In 2007, hospitals paid out €9.4m in compensation but that had soared to €43.2m by 2016, the paper said.

The rise is mainly due to more large claims being made, with the total number increasing 4.5% over the 10 year period. The biggest claim in the 10 years was for €1.9m.

‘Doctors think that more claims are being made and that fear is leading to a more defensive approach to treatment,’ health lawyer and researcher Désirée Klemann told the paper. ‘This is sometimes means more diagnoses are being made than strictly necessary to make sure nothing gets missed out.’

Ageeth Bakker, chairman of Centramed, which is one of the big two medical insurance companies, told the Volkskrant that the Netherlands is still far removed from the situation in the US.

‘But we have to be careful that we don’t head in that direction,’ she said. ‘We don’t want a situation in which doctors refuse to practise because they can no longer afford the insurance.’

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