Acc pays out $30m more for treatment injuries anoxic ischemic encephalopathy


Last updated 05:00, february 11 2015

Instead of walking away feeling better after going to the doctor, increasing numbers of patients are lodging compo claims for treatment injuries.

ACC figures show the number of people making claims as a result of botched surgeries, missed diagnosis and other complications is rising and is costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

In the past five years, the number of new claims for treatment injuries has risen each year, adding about $30 million to the total cost of ACC payouts for such injuries.

Capital coast district health board paid out $687,876 last year for a single treatment injury claim, the second highest behind one in waikato of $699,249.Anoxic ischemic encephalopathy

The payouts – from public and private hospitals, general practices, physiotherapy clinics and other treatment places – could cover compensation for weekly earnings, a lump sum or death benefit along with the initial treatment from a hospital and ongoing treatment or rehabilitation.

ACC would not give details of the biggest capital coast payout, but spokeswoman stephanie melville said examples of injuries for which payouts were made in the past year included cerebral haemorrhage, oxygen depletion to the brain, kernicterus – brain damage in newborns – and arachnoiditis – the inflammation of one of the membranes surrounding the nerves of the spinal cord, causing severe stinging, burning pain, and neurological problems.Anoxic ischemic encephalopathy

She attributed the rise in claims to the ageing population, and to the increased awareness of possible entitlements among treatment providers and patients. An ageing population means more people are getting treatment, which increases their exposure to risk of injury.

Andrew connolly, chairman of the medical council, said the figures did not reflect an increase in incompetent medical professionals.

Cock-ups and botched surgeries did happen, but made up a very small number of treatment injury claims, he said. The vast majority of claims arise from complications even after the medical professional has done everything right.

These included infections or an adverse reaction to a prescribed antibiotic a patient had never had before.Anoxic ischemic encephalopathy

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Fatal claims could result from a patient dying even after everything had been done to try to save them, connolly said.

A bowel cancer patient can still die after surgery has gone to script. A doctor can chop and knit the gut but sometimes it just won’t join. The bowel will leak and this can be fatal.

A patient needing heart surgery could have a heart attack during the treatment process.

He believed the medical profession had become a lot better and more open with the public, and this could also explain the rise in claims.

It’s been made clear if a patient has concerns there needs to be discussion that says ‘this is what went wrong, we can help fix it’, he said.

It’s OK to say sorry and try to put it right without any blame.Anoxic ischemic encephalopathy

A source at a north island DHB said another reason for the rise in claims could be the economic pressure faced by health boards.

Putting a patient on the ACC path could ease the financial cost of the DHB. If ACC is paying for followup treatment or compensation as a result of a treatment injury, it’s not coming out of the DHB’s pocket.

Nationally there were 12,160 new claims in 2013-14. This took the number of active claims under the treatment injury provisions to 18,577, with a total cost of $118.6 million. There were also 87 new fatal claims.

In the wellington region, there were 2075 active treatment injury claims with a total cost of $14.9m at the end of 2013-14, including 16 fatal claims.

– the dominion post