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Can We Learn From Denmark’s Medical Malpractice Alternative?

For people injured due to negligence by a doctor, nurse or other health care provider, getting answers and compensation can be a real struggle. Trying to communicate with the doctor or hospital directly can be impossible. This is why patients are often forced to seek out legal representation, and get a lawyer who understands the complex nature of medical malpractice to fight for them and their family.

Medical mistakes that result in injury or death are not limited to the United States, and can occur anywhere in the world. However, different countries may have different approaches to how to protect injured patients, and compensate them for their injuries. A recent report from ProPublica looked at how the Scandinavian country Denmark has altered their approach to medical malpractice.

Prior to 1992, Denmark’s medical malpractice system left a number of patients uncompensated or undercompensated for their medical injuries. Then Denmark made reforms to enact a no-fault system for compensating patients for medical mistakes. The goal of this type of program is to compensate injured patients, and not to identify and penalized negligent health care providers.

Of course, there are a number of reasons why a similar program could not be simply enacted in the U.S., in part because the U.S. and Danish health care systems are so vastly different. Like most of Europe, Denmark has a national health care scheme, whereas patients in the U.S. primarily get their coverage through health insurance companies. The U.S. is also much bigger than Denmark, with a population of about 320 million people in America, compared to less than 6 million Danes, smaller than the population of New York City alone.

A comparison of medical malpractice policies in different countries demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of each system. One review of the Danish system found that the no-fault system did nothing to deter or penalize the physicians who were involved in medical injuries. With no real economic impact from medical malpractice, physicians and health care providers may go on to injure other patients.

Here in the U.S., one of the drawbacks for injured patients is the complexity of getting compensation from a health care provider. Hospitals, doctors and insurance companies often fight against patients who are simply seeking to be compensated for a medical mistake.

As Ole Hamberg, a Danish doctor put it, “It’s not easy to discuss a mistake, but there has to be a very safe relationship between doctor and patient. The most important thing in patient safety is to talk about it.”

According to the ProPublica article, “after a medical error comes a struggle to get answers and accountability. Financial compensation for additional care, pain, disability or lost work is reserved only for a relative few.” This is why many injured patients need an advocate in the form of a medical malpractice attorney in order to get the compensation they deserve.

If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a medical mistake, the Gilman & Bedigian team is fully equipped to handle the complex process of bringing a malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of malpractice litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensation, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.

About the Author

Charles GilmanCharles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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