Medical malpractice claimed the lives of 699 people in Spain last year, according to Patients' Ombudsman

Medical malpractice claimed the lives of 699 people in Spain last year, according to Patients' Ombudsman

A report has also revealed details of the average waiting lists for surgery around the country and expressed concern about the general state of the healthcare system post-Covid



Wednesday, 18 January 2023, 15:23


In 2022 the Patients' Ombudsman in Spain received an average 37 complaints per day for medical malpractice, according to the 'Memoria 2022' report published by the organisation. This shows that there were 13,611 cases of medical malpractice (455 more than in 2021), of which 699 resulted in death (71 more than in 2021).

Of the deaths due to malpractice, the most common cases were due to diagnostic errors, as well as poorly performed interventions, hasty discharges, poor care, hospital infections or ambulance delays.

"The pandemic has taught us that we need more and better resources, but this cannot be the justification for the health crisis suffered by many region. The hangover from Covid-19 has left us with a health system on a war footing due to the lack of staff and the overwork of many professionals, especially in primary care, which has led to several strikes being called," the Patients' Ombudsman said.

'Gambling with the future'

The organisation said that public health care has entered "swampy ground", given that per capita spending is lower than in many EU countries, and had called for an increase in health spending of 7.2 per cent of GDP. "In Spain, 2,027 euros per person is spent on public health care, while the EU average is 2,746 euros per person. Germany, for example, spends 3,990 euros per person. We are gambling with the future, which is why it is time for the government to create a state pact for public health.”

The ombudsman also advocated the recording of surgical interventions in certain cases, such as where a patient requests it, and in certain complex operations.

And the ombudsman expressed concern about the "boom" in telecare, as it entails "great difficulty" in diagnosis and "endangers" the health of patients. The ombudsman added that attending to patients through a screen is "disrespectful and illegal". "It seems that politicians are orchestrating a 'low cost' healthcare model, trying to maximise performance with the minimum possible expenditure," the ombudsman’s body said.

Formal complaints have been made by the organisation in relation to the management carried out in certain emergency services, and has reported the following hospitals: Complejo Hospitalario Universitario Insular (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria), Hospital Universitario La Paz (Madrid), Hospital General Universitari de Valencia, Complexo Hospitalario Universitario de A Coruña - CHUAC, Hospital Universitario de Toledo, Complejo Hospitalario Regional Virgen del Rocío (Seville), Hospital Universitari Son Espases (Palma de Mallorca), Hospital Universitario Miguel Servet (Zaragoza), Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron (Barcelona), and Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge (Barcelona).

On the subject of waiting lists, the report said that one of the solutions is to adapt the number of beds, operating theatres and diagnostic resources to the demand, and "renounce" the shock plans and referrals to the private sector because "they are not sufficient and do not work".

While the Catalans and Aragonese wait an average of 151 days for surgery, the Basques wait 64, i.e. four months less. There are differences between regions, with Catalonia being the region with the highest number of patients waiting for surgery, 165,552, ahead of Andalucía, with 136,613, while Navarre has the least, with 6,641.

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