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What can we learn from patient claims? - A retrospective analysis of incidence and patterns of adverse events after orthopaedic procedures in Sweden

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Author(s): Öhrn Annica | Elfström Johan | Tropp Hans | Rutberg Hans

Journal: Patient Safety in Surgery
ISSN 1754-9493

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 2;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Insurance claim review | Medical errors | Orthopaedics | Patient safety | Patient admission | Safety management

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Objective data on the incidence and pattern of adverse events after orthopaedic surgical procedures remain scarce, secondary to the reluctance for encompassing reporting of surgical complications. The aim of this study was to analyze the nature of adverse events after orthopaedic surgery reported to a national database for patient claims in Sweden. Methods In this retrospective review data from two Swedish national databases during a 4-year period were analyzed. We used the "County Councils' Mutual Insurance Company", a national no-fault insurance system for patient claims, and the "National Patient Register at the National Board of Health and Welfare". Results A total of 6,029 patient claims filed after orthopaedic surgery were assessed during the study period. Of those, 3,336 (55%) were determined to be adverse events, which received financial compensation. Hospital-acquired infections and sepsis were the most common causes of adverse events (n = 741; 22%). The surgical procedure that caused the highest rate of adverse events was "decompression of spinal cord and nerve roots" (code ABC**), with 168 adverse events of 17,507 hospitals discharges (1%). One in five (36 of 168; 21.4%) injured patient was seriously disabled or died. Conclusions We conclude that patients undergoing spinal surgery run the highest risk of being severely injured and that these patients also experienced a high degree of serious disability. The most common adverse event was related to hospital acquired infections. Claims data obtained in a no-fault system have a high potential for identifying adverse events and learning from them.
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