Only a few patient injuries reported related to the coronavirus are compensable

By the end of August 2021, the Patient Insurance Centre has issued decisions on 77 notices of patient injuries related to the coronavirus, according to the new themed report by the Patient Insurance Centre.

Approximately half (51%) of the resolved cases were directly related to the coronavirus, in other words, the patient had a suspected or diagnosed Covid-19. In the remainder of the cases, the coronavirus epidemic affected other care received by the patient, meaning that the notice of injury was only indirectly related to the coronavirus.

Of the resolved notices of injury related to the coronavirus, only 10 per cent resulted in a favourable compensation decision. Half of them were related to coronavirus testing, one to coronavirus infection received in care and the rest to delays in diagnoses or treatment of other illnesses.

“There are several reasons for the low compensation percentage. One central reason is that the patient insurance does not cover an injury caused by the delay in treatment if it was due to the limitations of healthcare resources and the urgency of care has been evaluated correctly,” says Maiju Welling, Patient Safety Physician, Patient Insurance Centre.

Most common notices of patient injury related to the coronavirus concern delays in treatment

The notices of patient injury related to the coronavirus most typically dealt with the delay in the patient’s treatment due to the coronavirus epidemic. More than half of the reported delays were surgical treatment delays. The delay in treatment was the only reason for a notice of injury in individual cases only. Generally, the patient was also dissatisfied with the content of their treatment and/or the adverse effects caused by the treatment.

The number of notices of injury related to vaccinations filed by the end of August was 14. The majority of them was related to adverse effects caused by the coronavirus vaccine.

“The adverse effects of a vaccine administered properly are not compensated for under the patient insurance. They are handled under the pharmaceutical injuries insurance,” says Welling.

The majority of the notices of patient injury concerning sample-taking dealt with complications of sample-taking or symptoms suspected to have been caused by sample-taking. Regular complications of testing administered properly, such as a nosebleed, are not subject to compensation.

“In a few cases, the test swab had broken and remained in the patient’s nose. These injuries have been compensated for as equipment-related bodily injuries.

Big picture of the effects of the coronavirus on patient safety is still incomplete

The big picture of the patient injuries related to the coronavirus will not be complete until several years from now.

“There is always a delay in the accumulation of patient injury data. As a rule, the notice of injury should be filed within three years from the date one learns about the injury- Thus, it will become evident only after years have passed whether the coronavirus epidemic has, for instance, increased the number of patient injuries caused by delays in diagnoses and treatment,” Maiju Welling says.

The coronavirus epidemic may jeopardise patient safety in many ways. An increase in delays in diagnoses and treatment have already thus far been reported around the world and in Finland. Professionals have had to perform duties for which they have no sufficient experience or training and the basic education of healthcare professionals has suffered.

However, apart from the patient safety threats, the crisis also offers opportunities for improvement.

 “The prevention of infections has improved and telemedicine and other technological possibilities have been harnessed more effectively than before. Various healthcare actors have joined forces and worked together. Overall, learning and achieving change have been accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic,” Welling sums up.

Additional information:

Information on patient injuries 1/2021. pdf

The Information on patient injuries 1/2021 report of the Patient Insurance Centre contains information about the notices of patient injury, related to the coronavirus, resolved by August 2021. The report includes statistical data on the notices of patient injuries filed and compensated, more detailed descriptions of notices of injury as well as case examples of notices of patient injury and claims decisions related to the coronavirus.

  • Patient Safety Physician Maiju Welling, tel. +358 40 922 1399
  • Elina Muukkonen, Claims Manager, tel. +358 40 450 4604
  • Communications, tel. +358 40 450 4700