"To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom....Since our office is with moments, let us husband them."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dealing with pain/suffering? That'll be 150 DKK

Once again the Danes have a great concept regarding health care. This time its in regards to patient compensation for malpractice and in this case there is no doubt in my mind that this should be implemented in the states. The Danish system is not even comparable to the American system. They are night and day. Just in case you are not aware, the American system is based on litigation and the court system. Personal injury lawyers have ads everywhere, telling patients that if things didn't go perfectly that court is the answer, because that's where patients can receive compensation. This, in turn, requires doctors to spend money on malpractice insurance to cover themselves in case a patient proceeds with a lawsuit against them. It doesn't even matter if the doctor did nothing wrong; there is nothing stopping frivolous lawsuits. So there's the recap on the American system.

Now for the Danish system. The Danes base their system on no fault compensation. For full information on the system check out this website: http://uk.patientforsikringen.dk/public/dokumenter/

I'll do my best to try to summarize the information. First, the patient compensation is looked at as a patient's right, therefore all patients are covered by this "insurance" in pretty much all cases, except for dental care. The compensation scheme applies to injuries caused by both examination and treatment. But there are limits, as you cannot obtain compensation for an injury caused by the illness or accident for which you were treated, nor can you obtain compensation for treatment not leading to the recovery you expected. Compensation can be paid if the injury was in all probability caused in one of the following ways: if the injury could have been avoided by better treatment; if the injury is due to the malfunction or failure of technical apparatus and instruments, etc.; if the injury could have been avoided using another treatment technique or method of equal efficacy; if the injury is very unusual and serious in relation to the disease you were treated for and therefore goes beyond what you should reasonably have to endure. Compensation itself is fixed in accordance with the provisions of the Danish Liability for Damages Act. Compensation can be paid for loss of earnings, loss of ability to work, permanent damage, and pain and suffering. Compensation can also be paid for recovery costs resulting from the treatment. In the case of pain and suffering there is a cap set at 150 DKK per day, or about $30 per day A board consisting of doctors and governmental workers determine if claims are appropriate and deserve compensation.

This system creates equality amongst all patients, and also acknowledges that doctors are human and can make mistakes and should not have to be punished to provide compensation for the patient. If the doctor has made a grievous error than there is a board that can provide appropriate punishment. What this allows, though, is for doctors to practice medicine in a non-defensive posture, as they do not have to constantly protect themselves. All in all, a much better system than what the states makes use of. Again, the hangup with implementing a system like this in America would be the issue of where the government would get the funds to provide compensation as it would probably require more taxes, which are never popular with the American public. Nonetheless, in my opinion, this is a great system that would make medicine better for all involved.

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