Surgeons at work / r.c.

Medical negligence on the rise in the Spanish health system

Of the 13,000 cases of alleged negligence reported to the Patient Ombudsman in Spain in 2021, some 628 ended in the death of a patient a report has found

DOMÉNICO CHIAPPE

Of the 13,000 cases of alleged medical negligence reported to the Patient Ombudsman in Spain in 2021, some 628 ended in the death of a patient, a report has found.

Some of these were the result of "diagnostic error and the loss of therapeutic opportunity." Others were caused by "poorly performed interventions, hasty discharges, poor care, hospital infections and ambulance delays" including 34 people who died “after notifying 112".

The Ombudsman's Report 2021, found that, "Either an ambulance was not sent to the home to transfer the patient to a hospital, or in some cases the response was late with more than an hour delay."

Another 38 patients died because of post-procedure infections “because the hospital did not comply with the necessary asepsis measures.”

"Medical negligence, waiting lists, saturation in the emergency departments, lack of health professionals or shortage of materials are examples that show that the situation is not encouraging. The Covid-19 crisis, after years of cutbacks and the privatisation of the public health system, led to its collapse in the spring of 2020,” said Ramón Prieto, secretary of the Patient Ombudsman and author of the report.

Although the number of deaths in 2021 is lower than the historical average of 734, Prieto said the pandemic was masking the scale of the problem.

“This is because although surgical activity has been higher in 2021 compared to the year the pandemic began, waves of Covid continue to delay surgeries, tests and consultations. The proof is in the chaotic waiting lists,” Prieto added.